Florists’ fight against parking fine

A FLORIST is considering legal action over a parking ticket she received for being thirteen minutes over the allowed time as she loaded items into her shop.

Barbara Smith of Barbara’s Flowers in Royston High Street, parked outside her shop in November last year, and was given a �50 fine. Since then she has refused to pay, and says she has been treated “completely unfairly.”

The Whaddon resident also claims the traffic warden – employed by North Herts District Council (NHDC) – had been watching her car intently, and that they are putting people off coming into Royston.

Mrs Smith had parked her car at 11.56am on 13 November 2009, and was carrying flowers back and forward. When she returned at 12.29pm, she found the ticket.

She said: “The attendant must have been watching me from round the corner, and as soon as I was over the limit, he came straight in and gave me a ticket.

“If a trader can’t park outside their own shop for half an hour while she unloads goods then I don’t know what the world is coming to. I don’t know what they expect me to do.

“I have refused to pay the ticket because I think I am being treated completely unfairly. It’s not about money, it’s about principle. Thirteen minutes is not a crime, and I may take the matter to court.”

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The cost of the fine has rocketed to �275 since it was issued, and bailiffs were sent to the shop last week to recover �1,000 worth of items.

However, as Mrs Smith’s stock is perishable and therefore unsuitable for auction, the matter was handed back to NHDC.

North Herts East MP Oliver Heald had written to NHDC earlier this year to ask if Mrs Smith could be “cut a little slack,” but the authority have stood form on their ruling.

“I had written a letter on her behalf as she is an important business in the town,” said Mr Heald.

“I have always tried to help local traders because they are important to our town, and I hope this doesn’t affect Barbara’s business. If she can go to court, then at least she can put her side of things forward.”

Local campaigner and fellow Whaddon resident is also behind Mrs Smith’s cause. “We need to support local businesses and make sure they can trade as well as they possibly can, and we don’t need daft rules like this,” he said.

Mrs Smith continued: “The situation in the High Street means it’s so hard to park. Some of the traffic wardens will give a ticket out as soon as they can, and it puts people off coming here. It’s another reason traders find it so hard to do business.”

Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for planning and transport, said: “We have contact records going back for over a year now on this particular case.

“Throughout that period, Mrs Smith has never denied that she was in the restricted zone for longer than is permitted, and we have made every effort to avoid the case going as far as it has.

“Having looked in to this very closely, it seems clear that nothing was unusual or exceptional about the issuing of this ticket, and we have subsequently given Mrs Smith every opportunity to appeal against the decision.”

“Parking restrictions are in place for a reason, and we will do what we can to ensure that the fines are paid.”