A Yapton woman has voiced her horror after her disabled mother was asked for her son’s death certificate to appeal a parking ticket.
After Sue Marsh’s 56-year-old brother received an unexpected cancer diagnosis before Christmas, her mother was at his Worthing Hospital bedside almost every day.
On January 17, after struggling to find parking in the hospital, her mother parked in the Lyndhurst Road car park opposite but was fined after mistakenly thinking she could park for free using her blue disabled badge.
In a ‘state of shock’ she appealed the decision the morning after her son passed away, only to receive a response from Worthing Borough Council asking her to produce her son’s death certificate within 14 days or have the fine doubled to £50.
Now Sue, speaking on her mother’s behalf, has slammed the ‘insensitive’ council and called for more support for disabled drivers.
“She couldn’t believe it,” she said of her mother.
“She wrote a very emotional letter and an appeal the day after he died. She was in shock – she didn’t know what to do.
“You can have a very punitive system but then sometimes you think ‘that’s just crossed the line’. It is beyond belief.”
After further complaints from Sue and her mother, the council agreed to cancel the ticket.
Sue said the issue highlights a wider issue of there not being enough disabled parking spaces in Worthing.
Blue badge holders can park in disabled spaces for free, but she believes that should extend to regular spaces if no disabled ones are available.
She also called on Worthing Hospital to provide more disabled spaces and said a recently added disabled parking area only provided a few extra spots.
“The problem at the hospital is a problem for everyone,” she said, adding she holds a blue badge herself.
“I think disabled people have been pushed out of parking anywhere. I would like to see more consideration of disabled people, that they are not punished.”
A spokesman for Worthing Borough Council confirmed a parking fine had been issued after the vehicle was parked overnight on January 17 and 18, with no proof a ticket had been purchased.
The spokesman said: “In non-disabled bays in our car parks, standard charges apply for all vehicles.
“After an appeal was made and we learned of the full extent of Ms Marsh’s situation we cancelled the tickets.
“We want to express our sincere condolence to Ms Marsh and her immediate family for their loss. We can confirm we are reviewing our appeals processes to ensure similar cases are dealt with in the most sensitive and appropriate manner.”
Responding to the accusation that there is not enough disabled parking at the hospital, David Jones, director of estates and facilities at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, drew attention to the recently added disabled spaces.
“We are sorry that patients and visitors can sometimes find it difficult to park at Worthing Hospital,” he said.
“We are caring for more people than ever before and it is difficult to expand parking while also continuing to prioritise the development of clinical services in a compact town centre location.
“However, last year, we opened a new disabled car park at the front of the hospital where blue badge holders can now park for free. And overall, nearly one in five of our public spaces in Worthing are allocated for disabled parking only.”