Toys R Us parking charge for heart patient with chest pains

image captionBarrie James fell asleep in his car after administering medication

A man has been charged for overstaying a two-hour parking limit after suffering severe chest pains.

Barrie James, from Torquay, had driven to Plymouth's Toys R Us to buy a present for one of his grandchildren when he became unwell.

The 75-year-old, who has had two heart attacks, received the £75 charge from G24, a parking management company that runs the Toys R Us car park.

Despite repeated requests, neither company would comment.

Mr James, a regular customer of Toys R Us, said he had assumed the international toy store would drop the charge in the circumstances, but it told him it could not help.

When his chest pains started, Mr James asked staff if he could use their rest room to administer his Nitrolingual pump spray - a prescribed medication containing glyceryl trinitrate (GTN).

It works by relaxing the blood vessels, which reduces the workload on the heart and widens the coronary arteries to increase the flow of blood to the heart muscle.

"I haven't used the spray under my tongue for a while, so I wasn't at all certain I had done it properly, so to be sure I pumped it again, then almost immediately I started feeling awful and was violently sick and dizzy," he told BBC News.

When he felt a little better he went back to his car, but feeling "weak and absolutely washed out" he fell asleep in his car.

image captionG24 has declined repeated requests to comment on the matter

"When I woke up I felt refreshed and much better, so I had some coffee from my flask then drove home to Torquay," he said.

June Davison, from the British Heart Foundation, said the symptoms experienced by Mr James were common side effects of GTN and "he was very sensible not to drive".

'Ludicrous' charge

Despite writing to G24 and explaining the full circumstances, the firm has refused to waive the charge.

In a letter, the Buckinghamshire-based company said: "After consideration of the information provided by you, your dispute has been unsuccessful and the Contractual Parking Charge notice still applies."

Clint Jones, Plymouth city centre manager, said it was a "ludicrous" charge and he intends to write to Toys R Us and G24.

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Oliver Colvile said such an incident sent out a "bad message" to people who come to the city to shop.

The British Parking Association said the industry was currently unregulated, but an independent appeals service should come in to force in October which will allow motorists to appeal against charges they believe are unfair.

But in order for the service to be truly effective, it was "critical" for all operators to be members of an accredited trade association so the scheme can be properly regulated.

Mr James, meanwhile, said he will not pay the charge.

"Although I'm anxious and not sleeping, I've absolutely no intention of paying £75 for overstaying the limit by 20 minutes when I was so ill," he added.

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