Hundreds join protest at 'unfair ticket trap'

AN 83-year-old woman and a man with Parkinsons are among 170 people now contesting tickets they were trapped into in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Katie Davies

AN 83-year-old woman and a man with Parkinsons are among 170 people now contesting tickets they were 'trapped' into in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

The parking space on The Market Place, which is on a Transport for London (TfL) road, has been called a cash cow because it is not labelled as a loading bay, but still enforced as one.

Despite losing a legal case and being warned by a judge to improve the situation, TfL has forged ahead and is now even issuing tickets based on CCTV evidence.

Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association put up a sign on a nearby lamp-post warning people not to park there, but it was removed by TfL workers.

Gerda Torrence, an 83-year-old widower who holds a blue disability badge, was ticketed by a warden when she stopped in the space to buy a loaf of bread.

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"There is one disabled bay and that was taken so I just parked behind it. There was nothing to say it was a loading bay," she said.

"I must have been gone five minutes and when I came back the warden was giving me a ticket."

Since then Ms Torrence, along with dozens of other residents, has written to the parking adjudicator over the issue.

However, rather than freezing the fine to £120, TfL has continued to pressurise the elderly lady telling her she now owes £180 and will be getting a visit from the bailiffs if she fails to cough up.

"It has been ghastly, I'm being harassed all the time," she continued. "When it happened, the warden said I should call up and explain the situation, but they told me I had to write in despite the postal strike. After that I phoned again because I had heard nothing back and they told me to write again.

"Now this battle is going to go on for at least another six months. It is a lot of pressure and I am not a youngster. There is no question about it, the local shops are suffering from this. Everyone is too scared to go there now."

Diane Abyes from Golders Green drives for her husband Simon, who suffers from Parkinson's. They have been given two tickets because of the new CCTV camera system.

"It is a very stressful situation and I've really got enough on my plate," she said. "There are often so many letters coming through I don't know what I am doing. I told them about my husband's condition and about the signposting problems, but they didn't want to know. This is a lot of money and it keeps going up. They told me they didn't receive our paperwork so one fine is now £180.

"I want to fight this all the way to the courts and I will take my husband to see them and they can see the state he's in."

A TfL spokeswoman said: "The signage on the road meets the Highway Code criteria for marking the bay and we have already made improvements to ensure motorists are aware when the bay can be used.

"TfL issues all its Penalty Charge Notices in good faith and anyone who does think they have been issued a PCN in error should appeal through the normal process."