Disabled schoolchildren singing carols for charity ended up with a £140 parking fine in Nottingham city centre. Oak Field School and Sports College pupils spent an hour singing to raise money for Emmanuel House, which helps homeless people, on Monday. Two specially adapted minibuses – marked "ambulance" on the side – dropped them off in Low Pavement and returned to pick them up at about 2pm. As the children in wheelchairs were being lifted into the vehicles a warden wrote out tickets for each ambulance.
Several passers-by were so shocked they stopped to challenge the decision. When contacted by members of the public, Nottingham City Council immediately apologised and had the fine revoked. Head teacher David Stewart, who had intended to appeal against the fine himself, was pleased but said the ticket should never have been issued. "It's the irony of it," he said. "The youngsters had all gone carol singing to raise money for Emmanuel House, which the city council has cut funding from, and then they ended up with a £140 fine. "These children are also wheelchair users so trying to get them anywhere in the city is difficult so it does take time.
"An able-bodied person could be in and out of a bus in a second but we have to lift the wheelchair in and then make sure its clamped, which is what was happening when the ticket was issued and people passing by just couldn't believe it was happening. I know people have a job to do and it is a no loading zone but these are not boxes being loaded into a van, these are children getting on a bus and if you were that person I think you would use a bit of judgement." Mr Stewart said using public transport was not an option for the Bilborough-based school, as there were too many pupils in wheelchairs for a whole class to fit on one bus.
Wayne Rogers witnessed the tickets being issued and described it as disgraceful. He added: "I took the images from my place of work as I was so disgusted with the action of this person. I was not the only one and several other passers-by took pictures." Shelley Mawby also witnessed the incident. She said: "A group of people gathered and were as shocked as me. When confronted, the warden said 'I'm just doing my job'. It was unbelievable." The city council said that parking enforcement officers were entitled to use their own judgement and that as a result of the incident all civil enforcement officers would be reminded about the need to exercise discretion while carrying out their duties.