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No smoke but lots of ire

PUBLISHED: 09:03 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:47 11 May 2010

YOU CAN just imagine the look on trippers' faces as they saw traffic warden 6179 marching up to a fire engine and slapping on a parking ticket.

But for warden Julius Mercado it was a simple case of enforcing the law, since the 15-year-old vehicle was parked wrongly in a Yarmouth bus bay.

YOU CAN just imagine the look on trippers' faces as they saw traffic warden 6179 marching up to a fire engine and slapping on a parking ticket.

But for warden Julius Mercado it was a simple case of enforcing the law, since the 15-year-old vehicle was parked wrongly in a Yarmouth bus bay.

And, rather than a crew of irate firefighters clambering out of the engine to vent their feelings, it was businessman Dave Cook who emerged from a bar to face the music.

Former retained fireman Cook, 27, had parked his obsolete fire engine outside the seafront Long Bar to put up posters promoting his Big Red Hire Engine company, which gives wedding parties and hen night revellers a lift with a difference to their celebrations.

Yesterday, Cook was found guilty of parking in a bus-only bay on June 13 last year.

It was not the first time the fire engine had landed him in trouble: he could not get to council offices in the vehicle to pay for a parking permit last February and ended up with a £55 parking ticket.

Cook told Yarmouth magistrates that he had parked the fire engine in the bay outside the Long Bar because it was impossible for him to fit it into normal parking spaces.

As Cook went into the bar to put up posters advertising his three-year-old hire service, Mr Mercado approached and started to examine the vehicle.

Giving evidence, Mr Mercado said: “People were stopping and asking me where the fire was.”

Cook left the bar and asked the warden if he should move his fire engine and, if not, whether he could have another few minutes to finish putting up his posters.

Mr Mercado agreed to give him five minutes' grace.

Magistrates were told that Mr Mercado issued a ticket 13 minutes later after Cook had not moved the engine.

Cook had contested the parking charge on the grounds that the warden had not asked him to move the vehicle and had not given him a fixed timescale to finish putting his posters up. He said: “I do not dispute the fact that I was parked illegally, but quite obviously it is a fire engine and does not fit into car park spaces.”

The bench, finding him guilty, said they believed Mr Mercado's account but had some sympathy towards Cook's predicament.

Cook was fined £30 and was told to pay £150 costs as well as a £15 surcharge.

Last February, Cook paid a £50 Yarmouth Borough Council parking permit and £55 parking fine in pennies after he had suffered problems getting to the council offices in his fire engine to pay for a permit.

Since he could not find a space for his engine at the town hall, he ended up with a parking ticket for leaving his permit-less vehicle outside his Trafalgar Court home in the resort.

After yesterday's case, Cook said he would appeal against the parking conviction.

He added: “I think the whole thing is just a joke, and if I have to pay the fine and costs I will pay it in pennies again.”

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