What connects Hackney Council, Bruce Willis, The Mayhew Animal Home and justice for all those really unfair parking tickets dished out?
On Sunday night I drove to Hoxton, in Hackney, to review an Akala gig. He was excellent by the way and a true credit to hip hop.
I parked up, checked the pay & display meter and saw that it was now free to park, so off I went.
On my return, I found a big space where my car had been. Anyone who's ever experienced this will know just how horrible it feels.
It turns out that 100 yards down the road, tied to a lamppost, was a sign informing motorists that these bays were suspended over the weekend for filming.
In the photo link below, you can see a headless but nice young lady standing where my car was, right next to the pay & display meter.
And waaaay back in the distance, you can see another nice young lady standing where the suspended sign was.
You will agree, this was most certainly not adequately placed and that I could not have been expected to see it from the bay in which I parked.
Ah well, a cab home (it was too late for the tube) and the following morning cancelled as I had to make my way to Hackney Car Pound and pay £265 to get my car back.
I usually spend Monday morning volunteering at The Mayhew Animal Home, walking abandoned dogs etc - so they lost out. No walkies for dumped dogs, big bucks for Hackney Council. Can you see where I'm going with this?
I'm quite sure that by the strict letter of the law, Hackney Council are perfectly entitled to take my car and charge me that money because - despite being an Olympic Park away (almost) from where I was parked - they had put up a sign.
But if ever there was a case of common decency and doing the right thing, it's now.
The guy at the pound informed me that Hackney would have been paid by whoever was filming there to suspend those spaces.
Judging by all the tweeting going on over the weekend, I'm betting it was for Bruce Willis' new movie Red 2, which was shooting on the next road.
Hackney then got paid again by me, when they towed my car. They didn't even tow it to any of the other free and unsuspended spaces readily available on nearby streets and leave me with just a £65 PCN.
They acted like mercenaries and stung me for every penny they could. On an empty road, on a wet Sunday night. As the press officer for Hackney Council quite rightly pointed out to me, she couldn't treat me any differently from any other member of the public and I am having to go through all the usual appeal channels.
Which means they almost certainly won't give me my money back. A quick Twitter search showed me that @superlative_EST appears to have gone through something very similar, so I am not alone.
But what I CAN do that most can't, is document this shameful opportunism and give Hackney Council the chance to make amends for it.
I want them to donate my unfair £265 fine (I won't charge for the cab home) to The Mayhew Animal Home.
It's Christmas, those spaces were already paid for and, well, let's face it, it would just be the right thing to do.
If you love dogs or have ever had an unfair parking ticket or your car towed away without good cause, please copy and paste this tweet:
@hackneyliving donate @thejoemott 's unfair £265 penalty charge to @themayhew
It won't change councils all over the UK from ripping motorist off, but wouldn't it feel great to know that just for once, these extortionate and unfair fines had actually gone towards a good cause?
Should the unimaginable happen and they actually uphold my appeal, I will of course donate the reimbursed fine to charity myself.