Hinckley priest's Good Friday parking ticket goes before penalty panel
An independent adjudicator is to decide whether to quash a parking ticket given to a priest who was transporting disabled people home from an Easter service.
Father Frank Daly, of St Peter's Church in Hinckley, is refusing to pay the fine, which was issued at the annual Churches Together Good Friday event.
The church ambulance – a Renault minibus with a tail-lift for wheelchairs – was parked in a loading bay in Market Street, Hinckley, so it could take worshippers home from the lunchtime service.
Leicestershire County Council bosses have refused to rescind the ticket.
Now Father Daly has been granted an independent adjudication hearing, to be held at the Holiday Inn, in Leicester, on Wednesday.
"It is amazing it has got this far – it is just absurd," Father Daly said.
"But it is a matter of principle. It's not about the parking ticket at all.
"It is about facing these faceless bureaucrats with no idea how to implement the law.
"They are allowed some discretion, but they have decided that this case is not sufficiently important to allow for flexibility.
"A number of elderly and disabled people are able to join the walk from St Peter's Church to the service because it is downhill, but are then unable to return.
"Accordingly, for the past five years I have brought our ambulance for disabled people down to the Market Place beforehand, attached the necessary blue badge to it and also an explanation of why it is there, and there has never been any trouble – until now."
The appeal will be heard by a single independent adjudicator from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, which decides whether to uphold or cancel parking penalties issued by councils.
Father Daly said: "Whatever happens at the independent adjudication, I'm not paying it.
"I understand they can come into my home to take things which belong to the church to cover the fine. It may even result in a prison sentence.
"I never thought it would get this far, so anything could happen, but I am not paying the fine."
It is understood there is no direct cost to the council associated with an individual adjudication hearing, and that the service is funded by a levy of 65p placed on each parking ticket issued in England.
A Leicestershire County Council spokesman said it was standing by its decision.
He said: "The ticket was issued because the vehicle was parked incorrectly, in a loading bay. The disabled badge does not permit parking there.
"Having reviewed the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the parking ticket, our conclusion was that there were no grounds for it to be cancelled.
"However, Father Daly has made a formal challenge against the parking ticket and the matter is now being brought before an independent adjudicator."