Priest is prepared to go to jail over parking fine
A priest has vowed to go to jail rather than pay a parking ticket dished out to his church ambulance.
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 vehicle was being used to transport disabled people home from the annual lunchtime Easter service.
County Council bosses have said the ticket stands, as the ambulance was parked in a loading bay.
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But Father Frank said: "I am prepared to go to jail over this.
"As the driver of the vehicle, the fine applies to me and I can say that I have no intention whatsoever of paying it, no matter what the consequences of this may be.
"I know I have the full support of fellow church leaders in the town, who are appalled that such a thing could happen."
Father Frank said he had been using the ambulance to take people home from the service for five years.
He said: "A number of elderly and disabled people are able to join the walk from St Peter's Church because it is downhill, but are 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. This year, despite all the documentation being in place, a parking ticket was issued. It has caused anger and resentment and spoiled what was a very special occasion.
"I cannot say whether this was the result of some form of anti-church policy, a desire to make more money for the county council, over-excessive bureaucracy or just plain stupidity, but what I can say, along with everyone else present, is that it is totally absurd."
The priest said he had fallen foul of wardens earlier this year, when he made a 10-minute emergency visit to a woman whose husband had just died.
In the short time he was away from his vehicle, a parking ticket was issued. When he explained the reason to Leicestershire County Council, he was informed his visit was "not of sufficient importance to warrant some flexibility".
Father Frank said: "There is a matter of principle at stake here which I am not prepared to let go."
A county council spokesman 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, it has been concluded that are no grounds for the ticket to be cancelled.
"Father Daly has a further opportunity to make a formal challenge against the parking ticket and details of how to do this have been included in the correspondence sent to him.''