A DOUGLAS cabbie has brought his case for compensation over a disputed parking ticket to the small claims court.
Stewart Douglas, originally from Los Angeles, moved to the island 11 years ago and had worked as a taxi driver here for the last nine years.
On June 30 last year, he was given a fixed penalty notice for parking the vehicle he uses for his carpet cleaning business in a taxi rank space outside Colours nightclub on Central Promenade.
Mr Douglas, 50, of Woodbourne Road, refused to pay the £40 fine and lodged an appeal, insisting the painted signs on the road indicated it was only a taxi rank between 8pm and 4am Friday to Sunday.
‘It’s not a taxi rank on Monday afternoons which was when I parked there,’ he said.
The parking administration officer in the Department of Infrastructure initially stood by the decision to issue the ticket, saying there were clear markings on the road indicating the area is a taxi rank. A sign on a pole indicates no parking at any time except taxis 8pm to 4am Friday to Sunday.
But following the intervention of his MHK, Brenda Cannell, the then Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne asked his officers to investigate. After concluding that the signage and road markings were confusing, the fixed penalty notice was subsequently withdrawn.
Mr Douglas appeared in the small claims court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, seeking compensation of £249.50 for costs he says he incurred in fighting his case.
The hearing was adjourned until September 26, pending a decision on whether he was entitled to seek compensation for expenses.
In the meantime, he has offered to settle for the amount of £120.40 and is waiting a decision from the Department of Infrastructure.
Mr Douglas claims that ‘hundreds’ of other motorists have been issued with a parking ticket at the same spot.
He alleged the same parking warden - who has signed the fixed penalty notice with a ‘Z’ - had specifically targeted cars parked in the taxi rank outside Colours. ‘It’s a little honey pot,’ he said.
There are two lay-bys outside the Palace Hotel, separated by a build-out, one of which used to a taxi rank but which is now normal on-street parking.
Mr Gawne in his letter to Mrs Cannell said he had arranged for faded road markings in this lay-by to be removed.
He accepted the signage in the second lay-by where Mr Douglas had parked ‘may be a little confusing’, with the road markings displaying the taxi rank timings not clearly visible when vehicles are parked there. He said he had requested extra, clearer signs.
But Mr Douglas said that there had been no change to the signage except the introduction of double yellow lines.
Director of highways Richard Pearson said it was inappropriate to comment on a matter before the courts. ‘We would not wish to prejudice the outcome in any way,’ he said.