RAC worker ticketed as he attends breakdown

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AN overzealous parking Enforcer ticketed an RAC mechanic as he fixed a customer's car at the side of the road.

John Gallacher, 36, had only left his breakdown van for five minutes to drive the silver Peugeot he had been working on around the block to check the steering was fixed.

But a prowling Enforcer slapped a 30 fine on his windscreen in the brief time he was away.

Mr Gallacher said he thought the flashing orange lights on the roof of his van would have served as a warning that he was parked in a residents-only zone as an emergency.

Now the RAC's legal team is set to write to Edinburgh City Council and challenge the penalty.

Breakdown drivers are subject to the same rules of the road as members of the public - but Enforcers are expected to use their discretion, particularly when engineers are working on a car.

It is the latest example of overzealous ticketing by Enforcers, who have in the past slapped fines on an ambulance, a hearse, and the Scotland rugby team.

Mr Gallacher has been with the RAC for 18 months and spent the previous 12 years as a breakdown driver for a Mercedes garage, but had never got a ticket at work before.

He said: "My first reaction was disbelief. Then I had to laugh to myself - it could only happen in Edinburgh. It seems to me parking attendants are going way over the top. They have a job to do, I suppose, but they are very keen.

"I had to park where I did because I needed to get the jack out of the van, and while I was under the car the flashing lights would have alerted other drivers to where I was.

"The details are going to our legal department who will challenge on the grounds that I was working on a job at the time."

The father-of-two from Livingston is the latest victim to hit out at the heavy-handed tactics of Enforcers.

Yesterday, Enforcers slapped a ticket on a blood transfusion bus parked outside the City Chambers - while donors were inside giving blood.

And Reverend Peter Hadden was fined for unloading props for a Sunday school class in Belgrave Crescent in September.

In 2003, the Enforcers sparked outrage by ticketing a hearse as it waited to go to a funeral. The vehicle was parked on double yellow lines outside McKenzie & Millar Funeral Directors in Leith when it was spotted by an attendant and hit with a 60 fine.

And even the Scotland rugby team were not immune to being ticketed when their team bus landed a fine outside the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel while the players had a pre-match meal.

Mr Gallacher's manager at RAC, James Fox, said it was policy for engineers to park next to the broken-down vehicle they have been called out to fix.

He said: "It's for safety reasons and so they can get equipment from the vans.

"They can't park two miles away and get the bus every time.

"Common sense must prevail. We're there to remove congestion not to create more.

"We work closely with traffic wardens and have a fantastic relationship with them generally - many will stop to help us when we're on a job.

"But this one did not even wait so he could approach John and ask him a few questions about what the van was doing there. I'm really disappointed."

Andrew Holmes, director of city development, said: "If the RAC appeals and provides proof of the circumstances, we will cancel the ticket.

"Vehicles wrongly parked in residents' bays are ticketed immediately, as residents pay for the right to park in these spaces and there is considerable pressure on them."