A VETERAN battling cancer says disabled people are being treated "like Martians" after he was slapped with a parking fine while at a hospital appointment. 

Barry Oconnell, 78, from Clacton, was attending an appointment at Colchester Primary Care Centre in Turner Road. 

When he arrived he found all the disabled spaces taken and had to park in the main car park away from the entrance. 

But he was left struggling to get out of his wheelchair with his assistance dog in the limited space. 

Days later he received a letter through the post saying he had not paid to park and was handed a fine. 

Barry served in the Royal Navy, where he believes sailing “around the world a few times” in hot climates has led to cancer on his forehead.

“I just saw it as something I’d have to deal with,” Barry said. “I went to my GP and they did a fantastic job.”

Within ten days of the discovery, Barry was referred to Clacton Hospital before his appointment in Colchester.

Mr O'connell was attending an appointment at Colchester Primary Care Centre in Turner RoadMr O'connell was attending an appointment at Colchester Primary Care Centre in Turner Road (Image: Google)

Barry said he was left "smashed to pieces" after being handed the fine. 

He added: "You just can’t get the gear out in a normal bay. Thank God I had my wife with me.”

“My day has been smashed to pieces by this action,” Barry said. “Why do we always have to struggle?”

Barry said he had received a fine last year for parking on yellow lines, but successfully appealed it as he had his blue badge.

He said: “When I got the ticket I didn’t attack them, I suggested loads of ways they could improve, and they just ignored it.”

“I would like them to use intelligence and extend a proper area for wheelchair users. In Clacton, they made absolutely loads of blue badge bays in the town centre.”

Speaking about wheelchair accessibility, he said: “It’s crazy. We’re in 2024 and we’re still treating disabled people like Martians.

“I’m shocked at people’s attitudes, with shops who can’t let you in. It’s slowly, like an ice cream on a hot day, melted me. I’d rather not go out."

'Charges do not apply to patients and visitors entitled to free parking'

East Suffolk and North Essex Trust (ESNEFT) rules allow disabled patients or those needing to regularly attend the primary care centre to register their vehicle to avoid fines.

Nick Sammons, director of estate and facilities at ESNEFT, said the organisation will be cancelling the fine, and encouraged others to get in touch if they think they have been “fined in error”.

He said: “We’re very happy to cancel Mr O’Connell’s penalty charge notice on this occasion.

"The fine was received because his blue badge had not been registered on our parking management system.

“Charges in ESNEFT hospital car parks do not apply to patients and visitors who are entitled to free parking.

"They include blue badge holders, patients receiving cancer treatment, frequent outpatient attenders and parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight.

“If anyone believes they have been fined in error, we’d strongly encourage them to contact us directly and we will investigate further.

“The trust has an appeal process in place for anyone who feels they have been unfairly fined – just send an email to travel.plan@esneft.nhs.uk.

"The team are here to help and are very happy to listen to appeals.”