‘Dirty’ coins blamed for £30 parking ticket

Chris Davison and his dog Liffey.
Chris Davison and his dog Liffey.

WHEN Chris Davison decided to go for a walk with family on the north Northumberland coast, he found that the parking machine wouldn’t accept his coins – so he left full payment on the bonnet of his car.

But when he returned to the almost-deserted beach car park at High Newton two hours later, there on his windscreen was a fixed penalty notice issued by a traffic warden.

Despite appealing to Northumberland County Council, Mr Davison has paid the £30 fine after the authority claimed the coins he tried to use to pay for a ticket must have been ‘dirty’.

However, he has warned other walkers of the pitfalls of parking at the coast, even if the machines don’t appear to be working.

“On December 30, we decided to go for a walk on the beach with my family and my brother’s family who were visiting over Christmas,” said Mr Davison, from Newton on the Moor.

“We parked at High Newton-by-the-Sea car park, arriving at about noon. We had lunch in the Joiners Arms and then went for a walk. It must have taken about two hours.

“When I arrived at the car park I tried to buy a ticket from the ticket machine, it rejected both of my pound coins. After several attempts I concluded that there was a fault with the machine.

“Not wanting to break any laws, I left the two pound coins on the bonnet of my car in full view so that any inspector visiting the car park could take payment at that point.

“Had I brought a pen with me I would have written a note explaining the situation, but I had no pen and I thought that full payment for a day’s parking readily accessible and in clear view would have been sufficient evidence of my thwarted intent to pay.

“When I returned from my walk I was astonished to see I had been given a ticket. The inspector must have had to reach over the coins in order to put the ticket on my screen.

“I am left exasperated by the county council’s parking policy. They appear to be pursuing income from fees and fines without any view of the big picture.”

He added: “If you arrive at a car park like this one and find that the machine won’t accept your change, you can either turn around and go home or risk a fine.

“Surely they should be trying to boost the local economy through encouraging visitors and locals to come enjoy our fabulous natural resources and shop locally without excessive charges, particularly in the run up to Christmas when local retailers needed all the help possible to encourage trade.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “The machine had been checked and was in working order on 30 December. Sometimes coins are rejected if they are damaged or dirty. It would not be appropriate for parking attendants to pick up money from vehicles.

“A ticket was issued in accordance with the usual practice and parking guidelines that operate in that particular car park.”