A man who is registered disabled said he felt “violated and betrayed” after he was slapped with a parking fine for not displaying a valid badge in a disabled parking space.
Martyn Ravenhill, who was born in Guildford but now lives and resides in Mexico, regularly comes to the UK and is currently staying with his sister, who lives in the town.
The 57-year-old has dilated cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body, and has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
The device, similar to a pacemaker, will restart Mr Ravenhill’s heart if it “goes out of rhythm” or stops beating.
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On Tuesday (September 8), he went out to do some shopping and parked his rental car in a designated disabled bay in Leapale Road Car Park, Guildford, clearly displaying his disabled badge.
When he returned, he was “horrified” to discover he had been given a fine, which stated: “Parked in a designated disabled person’s parking place without displaying a valid disabled person’s badge in the prescribed manner.”
He said: “I was just absolutely horrified when I came back from doing the shopping and saw the ticket on my windscreen. I only parked in the space with a disabled badge to be closer to the shops.
“They slapped me with this £70 fine. Why not help? I just thought there is so much horror in the world at the moment we do not need anything more.”
Mr Ravenhill claims he has been parking in Leapale Road Car Park, and others in the town, with his disabled badge “all summer long” and has not been given a ticket.
The badge, issued by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, has not expired, and Mr Ravenhill claims a traffic warden said it is valid in the UK.
It is worth noting, however, that the UK does not have an agreement in place with the USA regarding blue badges, according to charity Disabled Motoring UK.
Mr Ravenhill said he felt Guildford Borough Council (GBC), who issued the ticket, was “going against a disabled person” and even thought the fine might be a joke.
“I have not been treated with courtesy,” he said. “I could not believe it, I was very upset. I have a defibrillator that restarts my heart and any stress can affect that.
“I just felt violated and betrayed by the people in authority here. It’s the reverse of taking candy from a baby. It’s giving a fine to someone who is disabled.”
He added: “I actually thought it was a joke. I thought it must be a joke and I looked around the corner to see if a friend was there playing a trick on me.”
He subsequently challenged the £70 fine on Friday (September 11), using an online form on the council’s website, and claims he did not receive a response for days.
However, on Wednesday (September 16), the council told SurreyLive that GBC made an “error” and the ticket has now been cancelled.
Lead councillor for parking, Cllr James Steel, said: “We sincerely apologise for our error. We have now cancelled the ticket and hope that he enjoys the rest of his time in Guildford.”
Mr Ravenhill said he is pleased with the “happy outcome”, adding: “To know there is some decency with the authorities is very gratifying”.