A furious motorist who disputed a parking fine in Margate on the basis the ticket machines were not working says he believes council responses to his appeal and then Freedom of Information request reveal the authority’s reason for rejecting his appeal was ‘totally false.’
Cliftonville dad John Horton parked in Hawley Square in November but says both machines were out of order and he did not have a phone to use the Ringo app to buy his ticket,
The store worker later received a fine at a discounted rate of £25.
John, who lives in Cliftonville with his two sons, says he appealed, saying the machines were out of order so he had no way of paying.
The 60-year-old said: “I parked in Hawley Square and both ticket machines were not working so I couldn’t buy a ticket.
“I was gone for around seven minutes and when I returned the warden was some 10 yards ahead and had ticketed me. I told him the machines weren’t working and he said use the Ringo app but I didn’t have my phone with me.
“ I told him again the machines were broken and he said to appeal, which I did.
“The council wrote back to my appeal saying they were upholding the fine as according to their records the machines were working. – my son witnessed they weren’t working so I appealed again saying that their statement was totally untrue and inviting them under the Freedom of Information Act to provide a copy of the daily report stating the machines were working when in fact they hadn’t worked all week.”
In response to John’s first appeal he received a letter from a council officer, seen by The Isle of Thanet News, saying: “I have checked the P&D machine maintenance log and can confirm that all our P&D machines were working at Hawley Square on the date of the contravention.”
Not satisfied, John then submitted the FOI asking for copies of the maintenance log referred to in the letter. He received a response to this a few days before Christmas.
A council response, also seen by The Isle of Thanet News, says: “We do not hold this information. The parking team have been to have a look at Hawley Square and believe that you are referring to machine 137 and the out-of-use metric machine next to it.
“There are no maintenance logs within the flowbird system for machine 137 for that day and the metric machine is off and we have no records for this. We are still in the process of looking at getting these old machines removed.”
The letter adds that only two parking fines were issued for the site on that day (November 4) including the one John received.
Former train driver John, who has now paid the £25 fine, said: “My view is that it is clear to see the statement of the council holding daily maintenance records showing the parking machines were working is totally untrue as the FOI clearly states they have no such records.
“It also seems to show the council knew full well these machines were not working and yet did nothing to inform anyone. It’s totally wrong.
“I’m not taking it any further because I know full well absolutely nothing will be done to put it right, I sent copies of my complaint to the head of TDC and others, but I know my efforts will be pointless.”
John adds that the ticket machines were still out of order over Christmas.
A further query was lodged with Thanet council over ticket machines in Ramsgate which were also out of order during the same time period.
A council spokesperson said: “Parking payment machines throughout the district are routinely inspected during daily patrols by our Civil Enforcement Officers.
“Council officers also check the payment machines system regularly during the working week. As and when issues are identified, they are reported to our machine engineers for repairs to be scheduled.
“Cashless payment is available for motorists wishing to park in the majority of the district.”