Pensioner says he would rather go to prison than pay Edinburgh parking fine

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A PENSIONER has thanked the Evening News for getting Edinburgh City Council to cancel a parking fine after he said he would rather go to prison than pay after receiving a parking ticket.

Donald Austin, 78 and from Carlisle, initially said he would not return to the Capital after he paid the correct amount for parking, but did so using two different methods too slowly.

Carol and Donald Austin.

Carol and Donald Austin.

Before the fine was cancelled he said he would only return to the city for his day in court, but now the council has done the “right thing” he will happily return with his family.

After being contacted by the Evening News, the council cancelled the fine and apologised for any inconvenience.

Mr Austin had been visiting Edinburgh with his wife Carol and had planned to visit the Real Mary Kings Close. On arrival at Blackfriar’s Street he bought two hours of parking on the RingGo app before returning later after he realised he would need another hour.

To ensure he was doing the right thing, he checked his first purchase with a parking attendant and left an explanatory note when he bought the extra hour with cash.

However, on returning to his car to find a parking ticket, Mr Austin was left furious.

He said: “I have paid for three hours of parking and they simply put a ticket on me. I left an explanatory note that I had to pay it in two parts because I didn’t know how long it would take to go around Mary Kings Close.

“I think it is a disgraceful thing for Edinburgh to do when you are a visitor. I have spoken to the traffic warden and checked if it had gone through and he showed me on his device that it had.”

The situation was made worse when he was later told two appeal letters he had sent had not arrived.

He said: “I was quite insulted by that proposition that I had faked them.

“It is absolutely disgraceful. I am not going to pay, I have paid enough. I think it is exorbitant to pay that much and I am not going to pay another penny no matter what anyone says.

“I am prepared to go to prison for this. A few days at her majesty’s pleasure would not bother me too much.

“I have spent my life going in and out of court as part of my job so I would happily come up for a day in court.

“I would not come back to Edinburgh, not after being treated like that.

“It is difficult enough to park at a reasonable rate but then to find that I didn’t make a mistake and you get penalised for it, well, there are plenty of other cities to visit thank you very much.”

Once he was told that the council had cancelled his fine, Mr Austin was happy to say he would now return to the city.

He said: “Now that they have done the right thing I will come back now.

“It shows the power of the press and I am grateful to the newspaper because I don’t know really if I would have succeeded otherwise, so thank you very much indeed.”

A council spokesman apologised for the ordeal faced by Mr Austin and said they had cancelled the fine. A spokesman said: “Drivers who need to stay for longer can top-up their parking time, up to the maximum period, using the RingGo app. In this instance we have cancelled Mr Austin’s parking ticket in recognition of the three hours’ parking time purchased and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”