An 87-year-old man who suffers from chronic kidney failure has had his “lifeline” removed after parking attendants towed his car because he failed to display his disabled parking badge.
Clifford Higgins put a copy of his permit in the windscreen of his Mercedes A170 to avoid the real badge being stolen and parked it in a disabled bay outside his home in Deerhurst Road, Streatham, last week.
But cold-hearted inspectors handed the elderly pensioner a £255 fine and told him he would have to pay a further £40 per day until he collected the car from an impound in Bermondsey.
Mr Higgins son, John, disputed the decision, claiming it was unnecessary to impose a fine for a simple mistake, adding his father, who is currently recovering from a knee replacement operation, was too frail to collect the car himself.
The council has since agreed to waive its daily impound charge, but has demanded Mr Higgins hand over £255 for the mistake.
Speaking on behalf of his father, Mr Higgins accused the council of exploiting its older residents.
He said: "It is inexplicable a disabled person’s car should be moved in such a cavalier manner without thorough checks being made on the status of the blue badge displayed.
"Unless there is evidence the badge is 100 per cent fraudulent, any decent local authority should err on the side of caution until checks have been made.
"My father previously lived in Crystal Palace for 56 years and there was never a problem putting a copy of the blue badge in the windscreen.
"I can’t see any justification for such shabby treatment of senior citizens just because they are vulnerable, easily-intimidated targets."
Streatham Wells councillor Alex Davies said the council was guilty of "removing a frail man’s lifeline" and called for officers to refund the charges and return the car.
He said: “Even if the rules haven’t been followed to the letter [by Mr Higgins], this isn't rocket science and no compassionate council should just come along and lift the car without warning.”
A council spokesman said it was investigating the circumstances behind the incident, but would not comment until enquiries were complete.
He said: “It is never permitted to photocopy blue badges – Lambeth offers a white badge scheme for residents who are concerned about their blue badge being stolen.”