War hero’s stepdad hit with parking fine at St Albans leisure centre

Photographic evidence was provided to St Albans district council

Photographic evidence was provided to St Albans district council - Credit: Archant

THE STEPDAD of a soldier who lost a leg serving in Afghanistan claims he was wrongly slapped with a parking ticket while dropping him off at a St Albans leisure centre.

Adrian Irving, who lives in the St Stephen’s area, is taking on St Albans district council after he was fined for parking at Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre despite leaving his car in a disabled bay and displaying his stepson’s blue badge.

He had driven the 26-year-old, who cannot be named as he is a member of the special forces, to the centre so he could continue with his training for a place in the 2016 Paralympic rowing team.

According to the council the vehicle was parked in a restricted area that was blocking access gates and there were signs directing visitors not to park there.

But Adrian is adamant he was not parked illegally and said the council had “ignored” all of his appeal letters.

He said: “Clearly it [the bay] was a bit faded but there was absolutely no signs that said we should not park there and there was a selection of other cars parked in this section so I thought ‘Fine we have a valid blue parking badge’.

“Then when we returned we were greeted by a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice). It said that we had parked illegally and that it was not a parking spot. It noted we had displayed a valid disabled notice. I was totally astounded.”

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When the incident occurred in February, Adrian’s stepson had only just had his prosthetic leg fitted and had returned to St Albans while on a break from the forces’ rehabilitation centre at Headley Court.

The pair took photos at the time showing the amputee’s injury and presented these to the council.

But the only correspondence they received was a court notice saying the outstanding fine had increased to £105.

Adrian went on: “We are dealing with a council mentality where ‘Computer says no’. This is the Little Britain style of council bureaucracy.”

The issue has now been referred to a Traffic Penalty Tribunal and Adrian said he was prepared to present his case to them to continue fighting his corner.

He added: “It is the principle that I have done nothing wrong. I parked in a disabled spot, with a disabled stepson, with a disabled badge.

“I was trying to assist him with building up his fitness. I was just trying to help him in his path to becoming a paralympian.”

Mike Lovelady, head of legal, democratic and regulatory services at the council, said: “Westminster Lodge car park is very popular, but even at its busiest it is essential that vehicles are not parked where they block access, for example in front of gates to access roads.

“The Westminster Lodge car park has clear signage telling visitors not to park on access roads. We can confirm that a penalty charge notice was issued to a vehicle which was not parked in a marked space but in a restricted area, blocking access gates.”

Mr Lovelady added the council’s parking team treated all drivers “fairly and consistently” and in this case the appropriate legal procedure has been followed.