Council ‘administrative error’ prompts refunds for 76 disabled drivers given parking fines in Hitchin

The disabled parking bays in Portmill Lane, Hitchin, where Derek Jarrett and others received fines t

The disabled parking bays in Portmill Lane, Hitchin, where Derek Jarrett and others received fines that the council has pledged to refund. Photo: Derek Jarrett - Credit: Archant

After the suspension of parking spaces for disabled drivers led to fines being issued to 76 people, North Herts District Council has owned up to an ‘administrative error’ and promised refunds all round.

The council’s backtrack over the spaces next to a building site in Hitchin’s Portmill Lane came after Derek Jarrett complained that the suspension was poorly signposted.

Derek, 80, from Pirton, was fined £35 fine last month after shopping with his disabled wife Jennie. “We were surprised to see a ticket,” he said.

“The nearby building work in no way encroached upon the area where we had parked.

“The parking attendant pointed out a notice high on the fencing which stated that parking had been suspended. Neither of us had seen it.”

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Notices were posted at either end of the bay, Derek said, but not clearly enough.

When the district council turned down Derek’s appeal against his ticket he paid the £35 fine, but also asked under the Freedom of Information Act how many others had been issued during the period of suspension.

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He found that there had been 21 tickets issued in the disabled bays between December 8 and 18.

After the Comet contacted the council, Councillor Julian Cunningham, the executive member for transport, announced a refund for all 76 people affected.

“While the signage at Portmill Lane contained the correct information and was of an appropriate size, it has come to light that this particular traffic regulation order contained an administrative error,” he said.

“As a result we will be providing refunds to all people who received a penalty charge notice who parked while the restrictions were in place between October 19 and January 22.”

When the Comet put Derek in the picture, Derek said: “That’s really good news. Jennie and I will be able to go out for a free drink now then.”

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