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‘Fined for doing a good deed’: Economist contests ‘inhuman’ parking ticket from Camden Council

Xenia Wall at the spot on Haverstock Hill where she got the fine. Picture: Polly Hancock Xenia Wall at the spot on Haverstock Hill where she got the fine. Picture: Polly Hancock

Friday, July 11, 2014
1:15 PM

A retired economist has lambasted parking officials as “inhuman” after being fined £130 for pausing at a bus stop to drop off a frail pensioner at the shops.

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Xenia Wall has launched a scathing attack on Camden Council’s “draconian” ticketing culture as she attempts to overturn the charge at the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (PATAS).

She was fined after stopping to let her 77-year-old friend out of the car as close as possible to her destination – a newsagent at the top of Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park.

The elderly passenger, who has severe arthritis and suffered a dreadful bout of pneumonia two weeks earlier, was hoping to buy some milk before walking the shortest possible distance to her home in Rosslyn Hill.

However, Camden Council has refused to withraw the parking ticket, insisting only a medical emergency is reason enough to occupy a bus stop.

Mazda-driver Ms Wall told the Ham&High: “They’re putting a price of £130 on helping people. She’s old and unable to walk very well. She’s just had 
really severe pneumonia and really nearly died. She can hardly walk and she chose that shop because it’s nearest to her.

“I paused on that bus stop for one minute – now I have to pay for doing someone a favour.

“The council is anti-human. They’re working in an inhuman way.”

Ms Wall and her friend were returning from a bridge game in Hampstead Garden Suburb – played by mothers of former South Hampstead Junior School pupils – on Friday, June 6, when the parking infringement was captured on CCTV.

The former economist and financial journalist, who lived in Hampstead for 30 years before moving to Queen’s Park in 2005, insists there were no buses in sight during her brief stop.

“It’s putting a dampener on being nice to people,” she added.

Ms Wall went to PATAS this week after an initial appeal was rejected by Camden Council.

In its decision letter, the council said bus stops must be kept clear to avoid delays and “potential hazards” to passengers.

Ms Wall’s explanation about her frail friend was deemed to be “insufficient mitigation”.

Cllr Sally Gimson, cabinet member for sustainability and environment, said: “The CCTV pictures clearly show that the driver could have moved just metres forward to a parking bay where a penalty charge notice would not have been issued for simply dropping off a passenger.

“There are only limited reasons for stopping in a bus stop, such as a medical emergency, and officers have decided that they don’t apply in this case.

“We would remind drivers that stopping in a bus stop is not allowed. They need to check the restrictions in place before parking their vehicle.

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