A SOLICITOR who was fined after his car broke down in a bus stop has criticised the council’s “heavy handed” approach.

Charles Garegnani, of West Road, Pokesdown, eventually succeeded in overturning the £70 penalty charge notice issued after he was caught by Bournemouth’s camera car.

But his appeal was initially rejected and he had to pay the fine while continuing to argue his case.

Mr Garegnani, a legal consultant for Fair Justice, believes Bournemouth council should have overturned his fine more quickly and feels the system deters motorists from appealing.

He said: “The system as it is is not fair. If you pursue an appeal you risk having to pay double the amount you would have paid if you did so straight away.

“After my appeal was rejected, I paid on a without prejudice basis and re-appealed but how many people would know you could do that?”

The 38-year-old had sent the council photographs of his BMW broken down on the bus stop in Seabourne Road and in the process of being jump-started.

“I thought they would use their discretion and cancel the fine but they turned the appeal down, saying I needed an invoice from a recovery firm or garage, which obviously I didn’t have as we fixed the car ourselves.

“I think there is a genuine purpose behind the camera car but it just feels heavy handed. People will give up and pay £35 because they can’t spend time arguing their case in front of an arbitrator.”

Gary Powell, parking and traffic manager at Bournemouth council, said: “We have a fair three stage process for any motorists wishing to appeal against a penalty charge notice. Full consideration is given to individual cases and mitigating circumstances are taken into account.

“Mr Garegnani appealed against his PCN but this was refused on the grounds that insufficient written evidence and documentation was provided.

“Although Mr Garegnani paid his fine, he re-appealed to the council and gave additional information to support his case.

“We believed Mr Garegnani’s situation was genuine and as a result we used our discretion to refund his penalty charge.”