It was the ridiculous parking fine that left a father completely flabbergasted, all because his vehicle’s shadow extended over a parking bay’s perimeter.
Matthew Cole, a self-employed gardener in south London, was issued a £65 fine (approximately A$115) by wardens after he parked his car outside a post office.
While in one parking bay, a disabled parking space made itself known by clear signage, in the adjacent bay, no markings were indicated – and so he stationed his vehicle before attending to his day.
What Mr Cole would not realise, however, was that later that month, he would receive a letter in the mail alleging he had illegally parked his vehicle and was thus being fined, leaving the man “gobsmacked”.
As it turns out, along with his fine, issued by Lewisham Council, a series of images were sent to Mr Cole to substantiate the apparent offence.
However, what the photos showed was almost farcical – simply the shadow of the man’s Ford Estate vehicle casting over the adjacent disabled parking bay.
Council Responds to Man’s Claims of No Disabled Parking Signs in Bay Where He Parked
Mr Cole was left dumbfounded by the fine, claiming there was no signage on the bay to specify that it was reserved purely for those with disabled badges.
“It’s absurd. There’s no signage where I parked and the photos they sent me only show the shadow of my car in the disabled spot,” the man said, speaking to local media.
“I was taking my daughter to a football match on the heath and had parked there before without problem.
“Having not got a ticket at the other times, I personally don’t think I should have got a ticket this time.”
The father also expressed his belief that the council was enforcing something bogus and the fines were unjustified.
“It’s completely wrong,” he said.
“They’re enforcing something that’s not there.
“I think £65 is not a lot to many people today but the principle is wrong. If you don’t pay the fine in a certain time it doubles to £130 which is a lot.”
After receiving the penalty notice, Mr Cole decided to appeal the fine, maintaining there was no disabled parking sign next to the bay where he was parked.
Unfortunately, Lewisham Council rejected his complaint, also maintaining its claim that he parked in a spot reserved for disabled badge holders.
Nevertheless, Mr Cole remains determined to avoid paying the fine and has since lodged a second complaint against the supposed offence.
“They sent me an email to dispute it and I disputed it but they seemed to just ignore what I said and said it was issued correctly,” he said.
“I’ve parked in that same spot at least three other times for five to eight hours each time and had no problem. I don’t see why it was a problem this time.”
Mr Cole added that the council was very challenging to deal with.
“They’re so hard to get hold of,” he said.
“I think it’s done to force you to pay.”
The Penalty for Illegally Parking in a Disabled Spot in NSW
While your car casting a shadow onto a disabled parking spot does not warrant an offence in NSW, it still remains against the law to park in a disabled spot if you are not legally allowed to.
In fact, according to NSW statistics from recent years, about 15,000 times each year, motorists illegally park in disabled spaces, many who end up getting fined.
In NSW, clause 203 of the Road Rules 2014 outlines the circumstances in which you are legally permitted to park in a disabled spot.
Clause 203 states that you can only park in a disabled spot if you hold and display a current parking permit for people with disabilities and if you comply with the conditions of use of the permit.
Breaching these rules, if you stop your vehicle in a designated parking area for people with disabilities, you can expect to receive an on-the-spot fine or penalty notice of $587 and one demerit point.
However, if you choose to have the matter dealt with in a local court, the maximum penalty you can face is a fine of $2,200.
As per clause 203, a parking area for people with disabilities is defined as a length or area of a road to which a permissive parking sign displaying a people with disabilities symbol applies, or to which a people with disabilities parking sign applies.
By Sahar Adatia.