A grandfather who was fined £80 for parking outside his daughter's home in Fulham – despite displaying a visitor's permit AND paying for a ticket – has been given his money back after a nine-month battle.
Alok Bhattacharya drove over to Fabian Road from Ruislip in June, put the visitor's permit on his dashboard and bought a ticket from the parking meter up to 6.30pm, as instructed by signs in the road.
But when the 71-year-old returned to his car later that evening, he discovered to his horror that a parking attendant had slapped a penalty charge notice on his windscreen.
Mr Bhattacharya was at a loss as to how he had broken the rules, but was later told by Hammersmith and Fulham Council that people using visitors' permits must also buy pay-and-display tickets for the whole time they are parked – a fact only revealed by fine print on the meter.
The retired chartered engineer then paid up while he challenged the council, and after nine months and an appeal to the adjudicator, the local authority was finally ordered to give back the money.
Mr Bhattacharya even presented his case in person at the offices of the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, which ruled in March that the restrictions and signs in Fabian Road are 'very unusual indeed' and that motorists should be able to look at signs and 'immediately see what is required to park lawfully'.
Mr Bhattacharya said: "To put it mildly, the notices are confusing. I was not trying to either get away with not paying my parking charges or break the law.
"If a resident provides you with a visitor's permit, you would imagine it would be classed in the same way as a resident's permit, but apparently not as I found out to my cost."
Despite his victory, Mr Bhattacharya fears many other drivers will suffer the same fate when visiting friends and relatives, unless the council changes the rules or makes the signs clearer.
"I got my money back, but the fact remains that if I come back again and pay up to 6.30pm, I will still get a ticket," he said.
"Most probably, the council are still catching motorists like I was caught in June, even though it has since been proven that they were wrong to do so."
A council spokesman said: "We are disappointed at this ruling by the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service and disagree with their judgement. Signs of Fabian Road are fully approved by the Department for Transport and we have won many other adjudications in similar circumstances."