Fury as traffic wardens cash in on housebound Britons during coronavirus lockdown

Brits all over the country have been slapped with parking tickets, with traffic wardens accused of taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to hand out fines.  

Motorists have reacted with fury after receiving penalties, with even NHS workers being hit with fines after working long shifts in the battle against the killer pandemic.

Taking to social media, many have shared their anger, while others have questioned why wardens are still on the street during the government’s lockdown. 

Only ‘key workers’ – whose work is vital to maintaining public health and safety such as doctors, police, firemen, and utility workers – are permitted to continue their crucial duties, but traffic wardens are categorised as civil enforcement, meaning their presence on the street varies from area to area.

Generally, traffic wardens are employed by the council, which means it is up to councils to relax rules or continue forcing wardens to patrol streets.  

Some officials have relaxed regulations amid the pandemic but others haven’t, so in some places, nurses, doctors and medical staff are being hit with fines, despite the British Parking Association putting out guidelines which state that no health or social care worker should have to pay parking charges. 

A parking warden slaps a ticket on Neville Sidebottom’s car as fines continue to be given out despite coronavirus lockdown

NHS nurse Adele Buttress shared this parking ticket that she got after coming back from her hospital shift

NHS nurse Adele Buttress shared this parking ticket that she got after coming back from her hospital shift

With people forced to stay indoors, there are more cars parked on the street, leading to potential fines for families who have more than one vehicle.

Other drivers have reported being fined while dropping off food to elderly or isolating relatives.

Nurse Adele Buttress posted a picture of a penalty charge notice she received when she came back from her shift at Nottingham City Hospital.

She said: ‘So after my shift finishing at midnight working as a nurse – this is what I receive.

‘Thanks NHS city hospital Nottingham – you should feel ashamed.’

After her post went viral, she added: ‘Didn’t expect that – just finished work again and I think they are letting all staff park on site for free now.

Why are parking wardens still out? 

Britain has been locked down to help fight the spread of coronavirus.  

‘Key workers’ – whose work is vital to maintaining public health and safety such as doctors, police, firemen, and utility workers – are permitted to continue their crucial duties, but traffic wardens are categorised as civil enforcement, meaning it varies.

Whether parking wardens are still out depends on the authority employing the civil enforcement officer.

Generally, traffic wardens are employed by the council – so some areas have seen the rules relaxed, while in others wardens are still being spotted.

East Sussex County Council said on March 24 that parking contractor NSL had judged it ‘safe’ for wardens to carry out parking enforcement duties, according to the Eastbourne Herald.

But Ashford Borough Council has now allocated traffic wardens to community duties during the coronavirus emergency.

In Bath, traffic wardens seem to be continuing their work, Somerset Live reports.

A parking attendant was seen on the morning of March 25 telling a motorist to move from double yellow lines in the city.

‘Takes social media for them to realise the error of their ways!!! Hopefully my charge will be revoked.’

Laura Mosedale replied to Adele’s ticket on Twitter, saying: ‘Hospital car park wardens issuing tickets during #COVID2019?

‘Scandalous, disgusting, unbelievably nasty…. we have to stop this! Get the police involved.’

One warden had been doing his rounds at a hospital in Stevenage and was seen putting a ticket on a vehicle parked outside a hospital.

The warden, who works for Stevenage Borough Council claimed he was ‘only doing his job’ after a passerby spotted him handing out the ticket outside Lister Hospital.

Outraged Kieran Tompsett had been at the hospital to see the birth of his daughter on Monday when he witnessed the unnamed man giving out tickets. 

As he left the hospital he gave the bumbling warden a piece of his mind. 

NHS medical director, Dr Mehdi Veisi, was given a parking ticket while helping in the battle against COVID-19 .

Ms Buttress’ ticket was written a short while after 6pm – hours before the UK’s lockdown came into effect. She has now said she has been told that parking fees for staff at Nottingham University Hospital are being waived, but was still waiting to see if her fine on Monday would be revoked.

In north London Dr Veisi was shocked to finish work to find a fine notice placed on the windscreen of his car – right next to his NHS emergency badge.

The medical director for Barnet, Enfield, and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust took his complaint to Twitter where he told others he doesn’t have the time to fight the ticket and so will have to pay.

Generally, traffic wardens are employed by the council - so some areas have seen the rules relaxed, while in others wardens are still being spotted

Generally, traffic wardens are employed by the council – so some areas have seen the rules relaxed, while in others wardens are still being spotted

Steve Birch took this photo of his ticketed car and tweeted at Swindon council after it announced the relaxation of ticketing

Steve Birch took this photo of his ticketed car and tweeted at Swindon council after it announced the relaxation of ticketing

In a sarcastic message to the Haringey Council he said: ‘Thank you Haringey Council for giving me a ticket whilst I’m fighting COVID-19.

‘You could see my NHS emergency badge too. Nicely done. Instead of saving patients, now I need to appeal a ticket. Get your priorities right for NHS staff.’

A spokesperson for Haringey Council said: ‘We contacted the doctor soon after he received the fine and have now cancelled it.

‘We want to thank him, and all of the UK’s fantastic NHS workers, for the brave work they are doing in tackling COVID-19.’

In Swindon, Steve Birch shared a photo of his ticketed car and tweeted the council: ‘Given the current situation, do you think this is reasonable? Ticketed on my driveway two days ago, all wheels on my drive but the bumper protrudes. 

‘If you cancel the fine, I’ll donate the full amount to a more worthy local cause (I’m very much open to suggestion).’

Sammy Leighton Clay took pictures of wardens ticketing in Brighton and Hove.

He added: ‘Just blows my mind .. I’m self employed as you know and have no government backing (apart from the offer of £94 a week)

‘I go outside to make a call to try and get advice , get cut off cos of busy lines then see this .. just unbelievable given what’s going on.’ 

One business owner in Ledbury, Herefordshire, said they were ticketed after being forced to close their restaurant.

Posting a picture, the fuming restaurateur said: ‘Just days after being forced to close our restaurant until further notice this woman gives us a parking ticket as we are clearing the restaurant!!! Absolutely appalling, shame on you. Utterly shameful.’

In Streatham, south London, one driver took a video of a traffic warden at work, while a business owner in Cheshire reported seeing a handful of vehicles ticketed.

Neville Sidebottom snapped images of three cars with PCNs near his business, including his own.

Kieran Tompsett (pictured above with his wife Katie) had been at the hospital to see the birth of his daughter on Monday when he witnessed the unnamed man giving out tickets

Kieran Tompsett (pictured above with his wife Katie) had been at the hospital to see the birth of his daughter on Monday when he witnessed the unnamed man giving out tickets

And Cllr James Hill, on Northampton Borough Council, said he spotted wardens standing around and chatting on march 23.

He said: ‘Hi @mycountycouncil for the sake of others & their own, can you please tell your traffic wardens that they should be social distancing as per your own and government advice issued?

‘On another note should enforcing parking restrictions really be a priority right now?’

Clrr Hill added: ‘I think that it’s important that roads are still kept clear for emergency services access. But in terms of enforcing car park time limits and on street parking restrictions there surely must be more pressing priorities right now?

‘In Northampton a lot of restaurants who now operating take away only services have had difficulty with wardens trying to give their delivery staff tickets outside their restaurants for example.

Traffic wardens have also been seen at work in Eastbourne and Birmingham, as well as in several London boroughs.

On the other hand, Maidstone Borough Council took the decision to temporarily relax parking restrictions for resident parking bays on March 20.

Restrictions in all residents parking bays have been relaxed until July.

Jeff Kitson, Parking Services Manager, said: ‘We have been made aware of increased difficulties from families with multiple vehicles.

‘They would normally park close to their home address within resident parking bays in the evening when the resident parking bay restrictions finish.

‘Normally by the time the restrictions come into force again the following day, residents would have already left for work.

‘As some residents are self-isolating and many are now working from home, we have seen a significant increase in parking within residential areas as the evening peak demand has now moved to the day when the limited waiting restrictions are applied for non-permit holders.

‘We are reacting to a situation which is new to us all and have done so as quickly as we can.

‘It is important to stress that all double yellow lines and single yellow lines which are of course placed to protect junctions and ensure highway safety, will remain active as it is vital to ensure the free flow of traffic, particularly for emergency services and refuse collections.’

In a statement, a British Parking Association spokesman said: ‘We are urging all councils to suspend parking charges for health and social care workers for on-street parking and open car parks.

‘These critical workers will be encouraged to display supporting evidence in their windscreen, such as photocopies of their work pass with sensitive information removed, or a letter of evidence from their employer.

‘We are also urging councils to waive all fines received by health and social care workers while carrying out their duties in recent days. These workers should be encouraged and supported to appeal the fines, with supporting evidence of their work.’

The BPA went on to say that it advised the ‘majority’ of enforcement action should cease altogether during the lockdown period.

‘Authorities may need to continue to deploy their front line teams in some capacity to focus their reduced parking resources on priority areas and controls,’ the guidelines added.

‘Enforcement officers should be focused on providing help and advice about where people can and can’t park and encouraging poorly parked vehicles to move where possible rather than issuing PCNs.

‘It is recommended that any enforcement activity focuses on incidents of obstructive or dangerous parking that could have a more significant impact on safety and access for emergency and essential services.

‘This would include yellow lines at junctions, loading restrictions and obstruction of dropped kerbs.’ 

A council has now reassigned parking wardens to help with the coronavirus crisis after enraged residents spotted them issuing fines as normal.

The council wardens are now completing ‘community duties’ and will only punish ‘significant’ parking violations after a row erupted.

Residents spotted two wardens ‘sweeping’ through a high street in Tenterden, Kent, which eyewitness Mike Carter described as ‘abhorrent.’

The builder said: ‘Tenterden looked eerie, like a ghost town and drivers of the few cars parked there were probably picking up shopping or prescriptions.’

Mr Carter, who is also a town councillor, added: ‘It’s a disgrace that they were issuing fines when we are dealing with the coronavirus as you don’t know what connotations it is having for people’s lives.

‘They may have lost their jobs or be caring for someone who is ill.’

Paul Webster was also outraged after seeing cars being ticketed on Saturday evening.

He said that he was ‘flabbergasted’ to see wardens at work when key workers are all ‘stepping up’ during a period of national emergency.

Mr Webster called for fines to be waived from last Friday when the government ordered all bars, cafes, shops and restaurants to close.

He added that he was not attacking the parking inspectors, but the council’s inappropriate allocation of council resources in ‘unprecedented’ times.

Ashford Borough Council has now allocated traffic wardens to community duties during the coronavirus emergency.

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