A cabbie given a £70 parking ticket as he picked up a pensioner in a wheelchair has won his battle to have the fine quashed.
Jimmy Shankland, 61, was furious when a traffic warden slapped the fine on his taxi’s windscreen – despite knowing he was about to pick up an elderly couple from outside Carlisle’s Scotch Street Post Office.
To his astonishment, the civil enforcement officer suggested that the couple – an 85-year-old blind woman in a wheelchair and her 88-year-old husband – should move to a shop loading bay 120 yards away.
It would have taken him 45 seconds to get the elderly couple into his taxi but he was ticketed before he could do, said Mr Shankland.
After battling for five months, the taxi driver has finally overturned the fine, proving it should never have been imposed. He lodged two appeals against it with Cumbria County Council and both were rejected.
So he took the case to the national Traffic Penalty Tribunal – and won.
In his ruling, adjudicator Edward Solomons said Mr Shankland had not parked illegally on the morning of May 20.
Nor should not have been fined.
Mr Solomons accepted Mr Shankland’s explanation that he was legally obliged to collect his pre-booked passengers.
The Adjudicator also expressed surprise that the warden involved suggested sending the elderly couple to a shop’s loading bay 120 yards away, across a busy city centre road junction.
He said this was inappropriate given their age and the woman’s disability. “I’ve never been so upset,” said Mr Shankland, from Belah.
“I’d arrived in to Scotch Street to pick up my pre-booked passengers and was about to put down my ramp when an ambulance appeared. There was ample room for it to get past. But I moved my taxi anyway to make more room.
“That was when the civil enforcement officer appeared and told me I’d have to move my taxi because it was causing an obstruction. It wasn’t.
“There was plenty of room.
“I explained my situation, saying that I’d arrived to pick up a disabled passenger and her husband. It would have been illegal for me not to pick up her as I’d been booked. I told him it would take less than two minutes to get her in the taxi.
“But he suggested that they should move to the loading bay outside Tysons. That was 120 yards away on West Tower Street, and across a busy junction. Then he told me: ‘Move now or you’ll get a parking ticket.’
“Then he issued the ticket. I was appalled.
“If the enforcement officer had left me to do my job, it would have taken 45 seconds to get my passengers in the taxi.”
After his appeal was twice turned down by the county council, Mr Shankland refused to back down. A taxi driver in the city for 16 years, he lodged a final appeal with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
Giving his reasons for upholding the appeal, Mr Solomons said: “I was surprised at the suggestion by the civil enforcement officer (CEO) that the vehicle should be moved to the loading bay.
“Apart from the fact that this was inappropriate in the light of the disability of the passengers and the distance of the loading bay, it seems to me that the CEO may have misunderstood the difference between loading and boarding/alighting exemptions…
“Essentially, I find there was no contravention because the taxi was stopped for the exempt purpose of allowing pre-booked passengers to board.”
Commenting on that ruling, Mr Shankland added: “It should never have gone this far. I’ve lost two days work fighting this. Perhaps the Council should give its officers more training to be sure they know the rules.”
The Adjudicator’s ruling was welcomed by the couple Mr Shankland was collecting that day, Jack and Jean Hood, of Newlaithes Avenue, Morton.
“It should never have happened,” said Mr Hood. “Jimmy’s always given us good service.”
Mr Shankland was supported by Wayne Casey, chairman of the Carlisle Taxi Drivers’ Association.
He pointed out that taxi drivers are entitled to wait as long as it takes to get a customer in and out of a vehicle.” By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse to give disabled people in wheelchairs a lift or charge them extra.
A Cumbria County Council spokesman said the authority felt the ticket was correctly issued but it accepted the Adjudicator’s decision.