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Parking fines cancelled for Belfast charity bikers

Wirral pensioners who stopped at Titanic Quarter cleared after administration error

By Annamay McNally

Published 22/11/2016

The Wirral Wobblers with American tourists at the Giant’s Causeway
The Wirral Wobblers with American tourists at the Giant’s Causeway
Jim Scott with his parking ticket

Letters warning of legal action against a group of pensioners who were issued with parking fines while taking part in a charity moped run in Belfast are to be cancelled.

A small number of Wirral Wobblers, who had been told in May this year that the original parking fines would not be pursued, received notices from the Parking Enforcement Agency (PEA) in recent days.

An administrative error led to the correspondence being wrongly issued.

One of the charity motorcyclists, Martin Archer, received a letter on October 21, and said the notice had left him feeling stressed.

"I thought all this was behind us," Mr Archer continued.

"Oh please let there be an end to this torment."

The group, from outside Liverpool, hit the headlines when they objected to being hit with fines for parking their mopeds on a pavement in the Titanic Quarter during a stop-off on their tour around Northern Ireland. The proceeds of the charity ride were in aid of the international organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

At the time, a spokesman for PEA said: "Unfortunately our patrol operatives were not made aware of the charity event being held.

"As soon as we were informed of it, we cancelled all the fines issued."

But yesterday, Wirral Wobblers spokesman Ted Bemand explained that the parking problem appeared to have reared its head once again. "This has been going on and off for a while now," Mr Bemand told the Belfast Telegraph.

"At first we were told the fines were being rescinded, but now it seems that two or three of our members have received solicitor's letters threatening further action if the charges aren't paid.

"So as far as I know, this all still seems to be in the pipeline."

Mr Bemand was quick to stress that the parking fines would not deter his fellow members from visiting Northern Ireland in the future.

"It was all very weird, really, because we had such good feedback from people in Northern Ireland at the time of our visit.

"I even sent a letter to your newspaper, on behalf of the Wirral Wobblers, thanking the people of Northern Ireland for their help and welcome.

"The business of the parking fines did put a little sting in the tail, I suppose, but we had such a great time and raised £1,240 for Medecins Sans Frontieres.

"It was strange, if you think about it, because that figure was the exact total of our combined ages at the time!"

During their visit to Northern Ireland, the Wirral Wobblers took in the stunning scenery along the north coast, even managing to check out some of the popular Game of Thrones filming locations, as well as riding around Lough Neagh and enjoying a number of private motorcycle collections.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, the PEA's managing director, Tom Harrington, confirmed that no further action would be taken against the Wirral Wobblers members in respect of the parking fines. Mr Harrington said: "We were unable to get a list of registrations of those involved at the time so unfortunately it looks like a couple slipped through the cracks but we will cancel them now."

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