Earlier on today (30th Oct), we shared a story about a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) that had been issued with a parking ticket by a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) whilst the Medic (who had parked the vehicle) was treating a patient nearby.
The parking ticket and subsequent fine was issued whilst the RRV was parked in Bargates, Christchurch, which comes under the remit of Dorset County Council.
The CEO was allegedly still finalising the ticket when the medic returned to his vehicle whilst carrying all of his kit at which point the medic, quite rightly, asked why the CEO was issuing the ticket as he was on an emergency call.
The CEO allegedly responding to the Medic by saying: ‘If you were on a shout then I wouldn’t give it [the ticket]’.
After we shared the article on both Emergency-Services.News and Emergency Services Humour, a follower provided us with some more information about who is responsible for ‘policing’ the parking restrictions in Christchurch and so we made some further enquiries.
We spoke to Mr Paul Hutton, who oversees the parking enforcement operations in the area concerned in relation to both the enforcement and subsequent appeals of parking tickets.
Mr Hutton stated that he had not been made aware of this particular issue until we mentioned it to him, so he did not have a chance to properly look into the case. Which is fair enough.
We asked Mr Hutton what the position of Dorset County Council was in relation to emergency vehicles getting parking tickets whilst their crews are dealing with 999 calls.
Mr Hutton stated that as long as it can be proved that the vehicle was “on duty” at the time of the ticket being issued and that the driver can prove that he/she was dealing with a 999 call, then the ticket will be cancelled.
He also stated that once the ticket has been issued, then it cannot be cancelled by the Civil Enforcement Officer, at which point we mentioned the fact that the medic concerned had eluded (not to us directly) to the possibility that the ticket had not been finalised by the time he returned to his RRV.
Again, Mr Hutton mentioned that he had no prior knowledge of this particular incident so could not comment on the specifics of the circumstances surrounding the ticket being issued.
Mr Hutton said that the parking tickets can only be cancelled after “going through the back-office appeal process” which could potentially mean sending a letter to them using “headed note paper” confirming that the vehicle was “on duty” at the time of the parking ticket being issued.
When we asked Mr Hutton about the resources which would then have to be utilised by the ambulance authority concerned, in relation to the time taken to appeal the ticket, Mr Hutton mentioned that it takes only a “matter of minutes” to appeal the ticket using their website as an alternative to sending in a letter.
We asked Mr Hutton if emergency vehicles, in order to prevent unnecessary tickets being issued whilst on a 999 calls, should perhaps leave their blue lights on in order to signify to CEOs about the fact that they are actually dealing with an emergency call and thus are exempt from any parking restrictions.
Mr Hutton stated that he could not comment on this idea specifically, as it would be down to the relevant emergency service as to whether or not blue lights on emergency vehicles can be left on whilst the vehicle is unattended.
We also asked Mr Hutton where Dorset Council stood in relation to issuing parking tickets to emergency vehicles which were parked in restricted areas whilst crews were on ‘standby’.
This is because often crews will park in busy areas whilst waiting for the next 999 call as, more often than not, that’s where the next call for help could potentially come from.
He stated that, as long as the emergency vehicle was not left unattended whilst on standby, then that would be a matter for the Civil Enforcement Officer concerned as to whether or not a ticket would be issued and that any subsequent appeal is judged on “its individual merits”.
Mr Hutton also mentioned that they had a duty to enforce parking restrictions in the area in relation to emergency vehicles, owing to previous complaints which they had received from residents about emergency vehicles being parked in restricted areas.
So in summary, the ticket in all likelihood will be cancelled.
But the impression I got from speaking to Mr Hutton was that the Council stood by its Civil Enforcement Officers when it comes to their issuing parking tickets to emergency vehicles.
And that as long as the driver of the emergency vehicle concerned can prove that they were on an emergency call at the time, then the ticket will be cancelled.
But why not instead just not give emergency vehicles parking tickets!? Surely that makes more sense!?
It should not be for emergency services personnel to have to then spend their valuable time trying to contest parking tickets when they are just doing their jobs?
We need more common sense and less bureaucracy combined with a little bit of common decency.
Why would anyone want to leave a cash-strapped NHS with less cash because they are having to contest and sometimes pay parking fines?
It makes no sense.
The emergency services already have enough to worry about, without having to contest parking tickets!
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