A CARER looking after a frail, elderly couple in an area with little parking provision has been spared an expensive ticket, prompting calls for all carers to enjoy unrestricted parking.
Tori Irvine spends full days with the aged couple who live in a Bangor city centre location but often has to ‘chance it’ and park on double yellow lines.
Sometimes the carer is able to park in one of the few driveways on Central Street, off Central Avenue, but when she was unable to recently, she came out to find a £40 fine on her vehicle window.
But outraged that someone who looks after them so well had been penalised for her altruistic vocation, the couple went to their local councillor, Bangor Central DUP politician Alistair Cathcart, and asked him to intervene.
Following Mr Cathcart’s appeal, Tori was let off – this time. But the incident is not necessarily a one-off. Because she visits the couple regularly, she said she could ‘get a parking ticket every single day I’m here’.
“A nurse came to see them and when she went out she had got a ticket too,” she said, but revealed the NHS worker wasn’t so lucky and failed in her attempt to have her fine overturned.
Mr Cathcart said it took repeated attempts before the ticket was cancelled by the Department for Infrastructure.
Now he is calling for unrestricted parking for this type of worker, as enjoyed by other public sector employers, like emergency services and postal workers.
“It took multiple back and forth before it was cancelled,” he said, adding ‘this is not the best use of anyone’s time’.
He explained that the man Tori cares for, who has severe mobility issues, was ‘upset that carers who provide wonderful care to him were fined for parking on double yellow lines outside his house’.
“There is very limited on street parking and during the working day it is care workers of course, often only have 15 or 20 minutes a visit so time spent finding a car parking space or parking in a car park a distance away is time away from those who they are caring.
“Carers should be allowed to park on double yellow lines whilst on duty. It is ridiculous that carers can get parking tickets for parking outside the house of who they are caring for,” he said.
“Carers are a lifeline to so many of our most vulnerable in our society. To many, they are the only people they see in a day. During the pandemic, they stepped up. They took on extra shifts so colleagues could self-isolate.
Mr Cathcart said he has received cross party support for his proposal that the council appeals to the Infrastructure Department to amend the Parking Enforcement Protocol.
A Department for Infrastructure spokeswoman confirmed it did not support a change to current legislation to allow carers to park with impunity, as in the case of emergency services.
“Vehicles specifically used by the police, Fire and Rescue Service and the emergency medical services, are provided with an exemption under the current waiting restriction legislation,” she said.
“The general rule is that these exemptions only apply to a vehicle attending an emergency. In non-emergency situations all vehicles are expected to adhere to the parking restrictions’.
“If an individual is issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and they consider that there are mitigating circumstances, such as administering emergency care, then an appeal should be submitted. If adequate supporting evidence is provided a PCN can be cancelled,” it added.
“As there is a robust process already in place to enable PCNs to be challenged, it remains the Department’s view that legislative change is not warranted for non-emergency situations.”