March volunteer, 71, hit with first market place parking fine in new council crackdown

A 71-YEAR-old volunteer became the first victim of a crackdown on parking in March Market Place when she was hit with a �60 fine for leaving her car parked with its rear wheels sticking outside of a bay.

Heather Bennett, who volunteers as treasurer for family-support charity Home-Start, made a brief visit to the town hall last week.

But she was left dismayed when she emerged from the building to find a �60 ticket which declared that her car had caused an obstruction.

“I was only there 10 minutes to help me do my volunteering job,” said Mrs Bennett. “It was a smack in the face really.

“I was the first - I got ticket 0001. I was gutted. The traffic officer was standing there when I parked - why didn’t she say, ‘excuse me, can you pull forward a bit?’

“It just seems pathetic.”

A spokesman for Fenland District Council said the parking order - introduced in response to frequent complaints about inconsiderate and dangerous parking - was widely publicised and the rules were clearly shown on signs in the market place.

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The spokesman said: “We sympathise with Mrs Bennett’s circumstances. However, her car was parked several feet outside the bay and was clearly obstructing the way through the market place, as our photographs show. Indeed, while we were there, we saw someone nearly take the back off her car.

“We couldn’t speak to her before issuing the ticket because we didn’t know where she was. When she returned to the car, she left without noticing the ticket on her window.

“Mrs Bennett was, of course, free to appeal against the fine before paying it; the details of the appeal process are clearly explained on the back of the ticket.”

When Mrs Bennett visited a one-stop shop to pay the fine - reduced to �40 when paid within 14 days - she was met by baffled members of staff.

“The person didn’t know how to deal with it,” she said. “She phoned somebody else and they didn’t know how to deal with it either. But they took my �40 and gave me a receipt.

“I agree that I wasn’t in the box but there’s no way I was causing an obstruction. There were no cars there - how could I be causing an obstruction?”

Mrs Bennett uses a walking stick and had been waiting for her disabled parking badge to arrive in the post when she was hit with the fine.