A wheelchair user has been told to pay more than £1,000 for repeatedly parking in a disabled bay.
Cerys Gemma, 34, lives in Cardiff Bay's Prospect Place apartment complex and has been allocated a standard space in the car park, which she says is 'tiny' and flanked by a pillar.
Cerys explained: "It’s impossible to use my space because it's too narrow. My driver door has to open far enough so I can lift the wheelchair over myself and get it out."
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To overcome the problem she has been using one of the disabled bays, which New Generation Parking Management says are for visitors only.
New Generation slapped Cerys with multiple £100 tickets, rising to £160 because she refused to pay them, WalesOnline reports.
The company made a claim through the County Court Business Centre over five unpaid fines, and is demanding £1,036 from Cerys, including interest and legal costs.
This doesn't include the cost of the parking fines themselves, adding up to £800 – altogether landing Cerys with a bill of more than £1,800.
Cerys accused the parking management company of disability discrimination. She told WalesOnline: "The prospect of going to court makes me feel physically sick. I think to put somebody in that position in 2022 in a developed country, it is disgusting."
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A spokesman for New Generation said: "We are astounded to be accused of disability discrimination when we have communicated with Cerys exactly what the rules are and why they are in place. "
Cerys first lived in Prospect Place in 2013 for about a year, and used the disabled bay without any problems. "I always parked in the disabled space," she explained, "I would put my blue badge in and have no issues at all."
The trouble began when she moved back in July 2020 and started receiving the penalties.
To use the disabled parking spots, visitors have to get a 24-hour ticket from a machine. "I went through a phase of parking in the disabled space and putting tickets in the car but it was exhausting and very anxiety-provoking," said Cerys.
"If I'm sick or unable to put a ticket in my car I would get a fine. In the end I stopped putting tickets in due to the stress it was causing,"
In response to her complaints about the fines, New Generation said: "You have given us misleading information claiming that you need the disabled bay because of your disability. When in fact your allocated bay is a lot closer to the entrance of your building.
"We would also like to inform you that the terms and conditions for parking have already been agreed and we have the absolute right to determine who is in breach of those terms and conditions… Now that you have been armed with all the relevant information we will not be entering into any further correspondence with you regarding this matter."
The dispute has taken a "major toll" on Cerys' mental health, which she fears will worsen if a court battle ensues. She will find out the next step after she responds to New Generation's claim form.
A New Generation spokesman said Cerys was informed via email in August 2020 that there would be 'financial consequences' if she continued to use the disabled bay.
"Cerys was aware that if she continued to breach the parking terms and conditions she would continue to incur further parking charge notices," the spokesperson told WalesOnline.
"She has chosen to ignore these charges and therefore we have no choice but to take legal action through the courts.
"Disabled bays within Prospect Place have always been for the use of visitors only, this has not changed since Miss Gemma became a resident in July 2020."
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