Disabled Hackney pensioner says School Street fine unfair
- Credit: Holly Chant
Despite being disabled and living within a school street zone, a 70-year-old disabled man has been fined by the council.
Mehmet Tosun has lived at Holmleigh Road Estate since 1998. His disability means he relies on a car to get around and take his daughter to work every morning.
But despite, the blue-badge holder’s home being in the school zone, which restricts motorised vehicles from passing through at school pick-up and drop-off times, he was given a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) which could cost him £65-£130 depending on when the fine is paid.
Hackney Council states that “vehicles registered to a residential or business address within a School Streets zone are eligible for exemption from” that zone.
However, a letter to Mehmet from the council’s parking services states that blue badge holders must apply for an exemption before being allowed to drive through the location at any time.
It states that his address is one of the exempted addresses but that he must have a valid resident parking permit to qualify for exemption.
But Mehmet and his local councillors are critical of the need for the pensioner to pay for a parking permit when he already pays the council around £18 a week to rent a garage on his estate.
Mehmet told the Gazette: “That upsets me, I have already got a garage. I am putting my car in the garage so why should I pay another permit which I’m not using.”
Blue Badge holders are also allowed to park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, so paying for a resident parking permit seems to Mehmet an unnecessary additional cost.
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However, transport lead Cllr Mete Coban told the Gazette, when speaking about exemptions for Blue Badge holders at bus gates earlier in the year: “The challenge is there has to be a system in which the cameras can pick up on the vehicles otherwise then how do you know who’s going in, it just gets too complicated.”
It is unclear whether Mehmet could apply for a free companion badge, which registers a specific vehicle number plate to a Blue Badge as a council press release from June this year stated that companion badge holders would be exempt from camera-enforced traffic filters in some low-traffic schemes.
However, exemptions from School Streets seem to need a resident parking permit as evidenced in Mehmet’s letter from parking services which rejected his PCN appeal.
Other residents expressed their frustration with the scheme which extends from Holmleigh Road to East Bank, blocking off a synagogue and post-office at restricted times.
A van driver for TYY School, Mr Hochauser, said he gets a tickets daily for taking children to and from the school.
Conservative Cllr Simche Steinberger and local ward councillors Benzion Papier and Hershy Lisser say they had a meeting with Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville about the issues with the scheme and stated that cars should be permitted into East Bank as there is space for a U-turn.
Holmleigh Road where Holmleigh Road Primary School is located, could still be blocked off at restricted times.
But they say they have not seen any further action from the council
In regards to Mehmet’s case Cllr Steinberger said: “It’s unacceptable. They know he’s got a disabled badge, they know how old he is and they know he lives here. What is he supposed to do?”
Cllr Papier added: “We hear this theme a lot from different types of people from all different ages and backgrounds. They are feeling that the current administration in the council is squeezing the poorest and the most vulnerable – this is a prime example."
Mehmet’s neighbour, who has been helping him appeal his case, said he spent several hours on the phone trying to sort the issue out. He added that the exemption application process was unclear and time-consuming.
"Mehmet will manage. He will spare milk and bread for three or four days and sort out the £65 fine but what about the next day? He can't go in and go out.”
A council spokesperson said School Streets make it easier for children to walk and cycle to school while improving air quality: “Already, we’ve seen a 74 per cent reduction in tailpipe emissions at our pilot School Streets.
“Residents living inside a School Streets zone - including those who do not have a parking permit - are eligible for an exemption and can apply on the council’s website.”