A BALLYCASTLE man who was given a parking ticket after he ran over his paid for time as a result of his autistic son having a ‘meltdown’, has called for common sense to prevail when it comes to circumstances like his.
Patrick McAuley was taking his five-year-old son to get a pair of shoes when he parked in the car park at Long Commons, in Coleraine, on August 31 this year.
Speaking to The Chronicle Patrick explained what happened and how he has been left to either pay a fine of almost £100 or face a day in court.
He said: “We parked in Long Commons car park so we could go to Bishops to get my son new shoes. I paid for the ticket and displayed my son's blue badge.
“When in the shop, my son, also called Patrick, had an autistic meltdown, he refused to walk. These things can't be predicted and they can take as long as they take – there's no set time and it's out of our control.”
When Patrick and his son, who attends Sandleford school in Coleraine, returned to the car park, the paid for time on his ticket had ran out and he was faced with a fine sticking on the windscreen of his car.
Patrick continued: “I contacted Roads Service and appealed the decision. I said it was out of my control and I hadn't deliberately flouted the rules. I received a letter back rejecting my appeal. It said I had to pay £90 or go to court.”
As an advocate for those with special needs, Patrick said he would like to see some leeway on vehicles where blue badges are clearly displayed.
He said: “I would appeal to those issuing tickets, or dealing with appeals, to exercise a bit of common sense.
“Anyone who has a child with additional needs will know the challenges we face, everything doesn't always happen within an allocated time-frame and when I had the blue badge displayed I'd have thought they would have used their discretion.”
Patrick, who has worked with people with special needs for over 20 years, contacted his local MP, Mr Ian Paisley, and asked him to take up his case.
The Chronicle spoke to MP, Mr Ian Paisley, who confirmed he had contacted Department for Infrastructure (DfI) on behalf of the McAuley family.
A DfI spokesperson said: “Penalty Charge Notices are not issued the moment that purchased parking time expires – a grace period of 10 minutes is given before a PCN is issued.
“Any driver who gets a PCN may challenge that PCN and submit any relevant supporting information with their challenge. If the challenge is received within 14 days of the PCN issue date, the discount period will be held until a decision has been notified to the person making a challenge. If the challenge is received after the 14 day discount period has ended, the amount due on the PCN will be £90.
For the full story see this week's paper