Disabled badge holder furious after being hit with a parking eye fine at the RVI

A man has blasted a private parking company after he was fined at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Blue Badge holder Craig Bulman, 55, took his elderly mother to a hospital appointment in February but was faced with a long queue to get into the car park. This has happened on previous occasions. Craig claims marshals told him to use the bay just past the parking lot entrance.

Craig, from Gosforth, Newcastle, decided to use one of the bays again and took his mother to her appointment, but about a week later he was fined £70 by Parkingeye. The army veteran appealed but was told Parkingeye bosses were told that signs in this area clearly state that there is a maximum stay of 20 minutes and that no Blue Badge holders are allowed to park there.

Craig said: “In February I had to take my elderly mother to an appointment at the eye clinic for a check-up as she had had an operation on her eye about a year earlier to remove a cancerous tumor. I have to take my mother in a wheelchair as she can’t walk far because she can’t breathe because she has COPD and other breathing problems.

“I have taken her to many appointments before where there was a queue to enter the car park because it was full and a marshal invited us to park in the spaces just beyond the car park entrance. On this occasion on the 27th In February, as many times before, the parking lot was full and there was a line to enter the parking lot.

“As we had previously been invited to use the car parks, I didn’t think about it and parked in one of the bays, clearly showed my blue badge and took my mother to her appointment.

“About a week later I received a PCN [Penalty Charge Notice] I appealed this for £70 and the Ombudsman ruled in favor of Parkingeye. I made a complaint about this and was told to go to Citizens Advice regarding the matter, which I did after POPLA ruled in favor of Parkingeye.

In a letter to Craig from POPLA – an independent appeal service for parking fines issued on private land – the company said the parking fine was issued when he parked within the drop-off zone for one hour and 28 minutes, and that he had been given a free Blue Badge. Parking does not apply in the hospital drop-off zone.

Craig Bulman(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Craig, who has traveled through Ireland and Bosnia during his time in the Armed Forces, said: “Having parked in these bays on numerous occasions it didn’t even occur to me to look at the signage and think I’d be driving my elderly mother to an appointment on time.

“I would like Parkingeye to provide a suggestion as to where I should have parked in the circumstances. I have received an image of a sign outside the building, I was not parked in that location. This PCN has been issued arbitrarily and will be vigorously challenged .”

A spokesperson for Parkingeye said there are no marshals on site at the car park and that the company has been working with Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust since 2015 to significantly improve the operation of the car park at the RVI.

He said: “During this time, investment has been made in modern, consumer-facing systems which have improved accessibility and made parking at the hospital easier and safer for staff, patients and visitors.

“The motorist parked for one hour and 28 minutes in an area reserved for pick-up and drop-off only. The prominent signage in this area clearly states that there is a maximum stay of 20 minutes and that no Blue Badge holders are allowed to park So he rightly received a parking fine.

“Parkingeye runs a BPA (British Parking Association) monitored appeals process, which motorists can use to appeal against their parking charge. If someone has extenuating circumstances, we would encourage him or her to highlight this by appealing.

“The motorist appealed to Parkingeye, but this was unsuccessful. A further appeal to POPLA, the independent appeals service, was also rejected.”

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