European Sweeping

The car that grew its own disabled parking bay

Reprinted from the London Daily Mail, May 23, 2003

When police accused John Simpson of parking in a disabled space and threatened to tow his car away, he thought they must be talking to the wrong motorist. He had left his Peugeot 405 in an unmarked space 100 yards from his home, with no disabled bay (marked parking spot) in sight.

It was only when he went to investigate the scene of the crime that the truth emerged. Council workers had drawn a disabled bay around his car, complete with signpost.

"It's got to be the most bizarre situation I've come across," said Mr. Simpson, 55, a graphic designer from Hornsey, North London. "I was pretty shocked."

Mr. Simpson said he had left his car in its free space at the weekend. "I don't use it very often because I use public transport to get to work. So I parked it on Sunday and just forgot about it.

"It wasn't parked in the direction I would normally walk so I had no idea what was happening.

"The first I knew of it was when I got a call at work from my flatmate. She said the police were there and that if it wasn't moved they would take it away and I would be fined £100 to get it back.

"The police were very blunt indeed, quite aggressive, and I had to get my housemate to move it because it couldn't get of work. I didn't remember parking in the disabled space -- I thought surely I would have noticed and it's not the kind of thing I'd do. Then my housemate said the paint looked very new.

"Sure enough it was a brand spanking new, with a proper disabled sign posted and everything. It was as if they thought my car was the one that needed a bay.

"You can't create a new bay around someone's car and then fine them for being in it. I suppose in a way it's funny, but if I'd been towed away and fined things would have got rather messy."

"I thought it was a joke, but then I realized it was serious." A spokesman for Haringey Council said, "it is not normal procedure to paint around a vehicle, but in this case a disabled bay already existed further along the road and had to be moved, which may account for the anomaly."

Last month, the Daily Mail told how pensioner Ken Stevenson waited 12 months for his local council to install a disabled parking bay outside to his home in Portland, Dorset.

But the 70 year-old, who suffers from arthritis, was astonished the next day when workers returned to resurface the road, leaving the distinctive yellow bay buried under a layer of asphalt.

Weymouth and Portland of Borough Council later apologized for a mistake and repainted his bay at a cost of £120 to the taxpayer.

The following week, we revealed that 19 year-old charity worker Jack Williams returned to his car in Stokes to find double yellow lines had been painted on either side of it -- and a £28 parking ticket slapped on the windscreen.


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