Residents claim a new parking permit is discriminatory against the elderly and vulnerable.

Those living on South Street, Bridport, who buy annual residents’ parking permits for on-street parking have received parking tickets after the permit system went electronic. Some residents claim they didn’t know about the change or never received a renewal reminder in the post or by email.

Sophie Weston claims she never received a reminder and is appealing the parking ticket

She said: “We used to get sent a paper reminder and a paper permit to put in our car. I didn’t hear anything and didn’t think about it and at the end of August, I got a parking ticket.

“I emailed and 24 hours later they replied and said, ‘under the letter of the law, you didn’t have a permit when we gave you a ticket, so we can give you a ticket’. It completely ignored the fact that I didn’t have a renewal, although they claim they sent one.

“I haven’t paid yet, they refused to quash the ticket, so they said I have to leave it, which means I risk paying £70 or I am taking it to the independent adjudicator as given their response, is the only way to go.”

Karen Etherington, who has lived on the street for 26 years and has paid for a permit since it was introduced.

As a pensioner living on a low income, the fine was a great expense and she doesn’t use her computer, as a result, she missed an email reminder.

“I found I had a ticket when I was two weeks overdue and it was the first time I had to rely on just an email,” she said. “I don’t use my computer on a regular basis.”

“It is so easy to miss and I missed it. There was just one email and no second follow up to say urgent.”

Fellow resident Zoe Bealing was also caught out as she doesn’t use email due to a sight problem.

She said: “I thought they had got it wrong because I have got a permit, but what I didn’t know is that they had completely changed the system and, for the past 11 years, I had always worked with the permit system.

“We want to pay it. There’s no way anyone is avoiding it at all.

"If I had received a letter of the change I would have accepted my mistake."

The parking permits are administered by MiPermit on behalf of Dorset Council.

Paul Hutton, Dorset Council’s manager of parking services, said: “The virtual permit scheme replaced the pre-existing scheme in April 2017. The scheme was introduced to support the council’s digitalisation strategy as agreed by councillors, and also to reduce the administrative cost and burden to the taxpayer.

“Once a resident has registered online and, provided they supply an up-to-date email, then a reminder is emailed to them by the company administering the permits on behalf of the council.

“There is always a level of responsibility on the part of the motorist to check when renewal dates for insurance, car tax and other permits are due, but where a resident has received a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) there is a legal procedure by which the recipient may appeal the PCN, if necessary, to an independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal for a final outcome if they are not satisfied with the decision made by Dorset Council.

“I am exploring whether an auto-renewal option can be made available to all users of the scheme.”