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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Fire vehicles get parking tickets
Traffic warden
Westminster Council has begun an inquiry into the incident
A parking attendant has given tickets to three fire brigade vehicles while they were being used at an emergency in central London.

The tickets were issued while firefighters spent an hour tackling a fire in an office building in Piccadilly on Wednesday.

Westminster Council says the attendant was wrong to issue the penalties and the tickets have been cancelled.

Emergency vehicles are exempt from parking controls when they are on an emergency call.

The council has taken up the issue with its parking contractor NCP.

In June NCP offered the prize of a 12,000 car for the employee who hands out the most valid fines in Westminster before December.

In the future (parking attendants) will need to err on the side of caution when issuing tickets in these circumstances
Westminster Council spokesman
The move was condemned at the time by the AA Motoring Trust who said it would encourage officials to become over-zealous.

A spokesman for Westminster Council said Wednesday's incident would be followed up with NCP.

He said the penalties were issued to three fire brigade support vehicles about 30 minutes after the fire engines had left the scene.

"We have instructed NCP to remind all parking attendants in Westminster that emergency services provide an essential service and are exempt from parking restrictions when on official business.

"In the future they will need to err on the side of caution when issuing tickets in these circumstances."

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