Disabled woman's parking fine anger

A WHEELCHAIR user with a debilitating illness was slapped with a £70 fine after she took too long to eat her meal at a fast food restaurant.

Laurence Cawley

A WHEELCHAIR user with a debilitating illness was slapped with a £70 fine after she took too long to eat her meal at a fast food restaurant.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Cher Challis is confined to a wheelchair and needs the help of her carer husband Andrew for everything including dressing, washing and feeding.

Mrs Challis, 42, had an appointment with her doctor in Haverhill and afterwards the couple went to the newly-opened KFC outlet in the Suffolk town.

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Mr Challis said: “Cher was feeling pretty low after seeing the doctor so to cheer her up we went to have a KFC meal.

“It is the first time we have been there and although I saw the signs I never dreamt that the parking limit applied to its own customers. It takes Cher much longer to eat because she has trouble chewing and swallowing. I have to cut up her food and feed her so meal times are not quick.

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“She also gets tired and it is an effort for her to eat so by the time we came out of the restaurant I knew we had been there over an hour.

“But the first I knew of the penalty was when six days later I got a fine notice through the post demanding £70.

“They said if I paid with a week it would only be £50 so our £15 meal would have cost £65 - I was staggered and furious.”

The couple, displaying their blue badge, had been parked at the restaurant for one hour and 24 minutes - the car park has a maximum stay of one hour.

After Mr Challis called TPS Parking, the firm which looks after the car park for KFC, to protest and explained the circumstances they agreed to “grant” him an extra 30 minutes because he was a blue badge holder.

But Mr Challis, 44, said: “It is dreadful that KFC are so inflexible - they should have used a little commonsense - my blue badge was clearly displayed on the dashboard.

“It's simply a licence to print money - they know that most people will simply pay the fine to avoid the aggravation.

“But that's the last time we will ever go to a KFC again and our friends who have also been appalled at the way we were treated are boycotting the place as well.”

KFC said it would be contacting TPS Parking Solutions, which controls its car park, and get Mr Challis' penalty ticket cancelled.

But a spokesman said: “A parking restriction was introduced to prevent non-KFC customers using the car park. The 60-minute limit is clearly signposted and designed for most customers who generally eat for around 30 minutes. However, on this occasion due to extenuating circumstances we have asked the parking firm to cancel Mr Challis' fine.”

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