Pensioner in tears at fine for upside down disabled ID
The daughter of a 91-year-old Ulster woman who was fined £30 for displaying her disabled badge upside down has told of her mother's distress after the incident.
Helen Bowman, from Banbridge, took her mother, Ena Black, shopping in Coleraine last weekend and parked her vehicle in the Mall car park for less than half an hour.
But, when she returned to her Jeep with her elderly mother - who can only walk short distances - she was astonished to find she had been given a parking ticket.
"My mother was crying," Mrs Bowman explained.
"She has arthritis. She is very weak and she can't walk very far. We went to the car park, which was half empty, specifically to park in the disabled spaces to be close to town.
"But when I challenged the traffic warden about the ticket he said the disabled permit was upside down."
Mrs Bowman, a businesswoman who also cares for her mother at home, said that they had been in town merely 20 minutes when they were slapped with the fine.
"My husband asked the traffic attendant to show him how to put the blue badge up and asked where it actually explains that on it," she said.
" I had the side with my mother's face up, but we were told we should have had the blue side up instead.
"It's a £30 fine, which goes up to £60 if it's not paid within two weeks. We think we will challenge it. If there is to be a voice for disabled people we must challenge the fine."
She added: "Mummy was very distressed. I think it has gone beyond a joke when disabled people are being attacked in paid car parks."
This is the third incident to come to light in only two weeks, after it emerged that traffic attendants have begun a crackdown on people who misuse disabled parking badges.
Last week, 79-year-old cancer sufferer Elizabeth Breen (79) from Coleraine, and Anne Austin (72) from Ballycastle, who is recovering from surgery on her knee, were hit with fines after accidentally leaving their blue badges back to front on the dashboards of their cars.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Regional Development insisted that the traffic wardens had followed procedures by issuing the tickets.
She also explained the 'rules' of using a blue badge to benefit from the parking concession:
A blue badge holder must display the badge on top of the dashboard or facia panel of a vehicle with the front of the badge - showing the wheelchair-user symbol - facing forward so that the relevant details are legible from outside of the vehicle.
"In these instances the Penalty Charge Notices were correctly issued to the vehicles as the blue badges were displayed incorrectly," she said, adding that the women were entitled to appeal the tickets.