Pair fear losing their ‘lifeline’ car after Town Hall calls in ‘bailiffs’

Woman with genetic disease says parking fines are wrong and feels ‘under attack’

Friday, 16th August 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Darren and Sophie Wheeler

Darren and Sophie Wheeler:­ ‘I have watched the Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away programme and always thought it would be so scary if it happened to us’

A COUPLE fear they may lose their disability car after the council sent the “bailiffs” knocking following a dispute over parking tickets.

Sophie and Darren Wheeler, who live in Queen Margret Court, Canonbury, are battling the council over a string of parking tickets they believe they have wrongfully received.

They have now been slapped with a “control of goods” notice and a £513 fine after the council passed the case to debt recovery firm Newlyn.

Ms Wheeler, 29, said: “We feel like we’re under attack. If I can’t sort the car out, and these people keeping claiming they will take it, I will be stranded.”

She added: “I have watched the Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away TV programme and always thought it would be so scary if it happened to us. Now it is happening, its worse than I imagined.”

The mother of two has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare genetic disease where that gradually disintegrates the joints. Her limbs often pop out of their sockets leaving her in almost constant agony.

Mr Wheeler added: “Having a car is like Sophie’s lifeline for getting out of the house.”

The couple contacted the Tribune following last week’s report that the Town Hall’s parking and traffic department is allegedly under ­investi­gation.

Whistleblowing reports have been filed with the council and a source said some of the allegations are related to the council issuing fines after a permitted legal deadline.

Ms Wheeler’s mobility car is paid for through her personal independence payments (PIP), as part of a motor scheme.

The couple say they got a fine in February last year because they did not realise their parking permit had expired.

They were not allowed to renew their residential parking permit while they were in the process of challenging this ticket.

But in this time they were given more tickets and the fines started piling up, causing the pair anxiety and financial stress.

Many tickets were written off by the council but one remains.

A Town Hall spokes­man said: “We urge Mrs Wheeler to contact us urgently to discuss the situation. One PCN for this vehicle has not been paid. The council sent three notices about the PCN to Mrs Wheeler (the registered keeper) without any response, and the case has been passed to enforcement agents.

“The PCN can still be appealed by referring to the Traffic Enforcement Centre on 0300 123 1059 – the Traffic Enforcement Centre can explain this process to Mrs Wheeler. Alternatively a manageable payment plan can be arranged with the enforcement agent.”

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