Church organist prepared to fight fixed penalty fine in court
Church organist Jacquelyn Bevan said she would go to court rather than pay a fixed penalty fine imposed following a spat with carnival marshals as she tried to leave a polling station after voting in elections for the police commissioner.
Mrs Bevan, 52, of Wells Road, Radstock, said she was flabbergasted after being offered a fixed penalty notice six weeks after the altercation on the night of Midsomer Norton Carnival, which coincided with the elections in November.
She has refused to accept the penalty and the fine that goes with it and now faces being summonsed for a public order offence and a court appearance.
The incident happened when a marshal tried to prevent her leaving the car park at her polling station in Westfield Methodist Church close to the start of the carnival route.
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The concert pianist had been on her way to work when she parked in the car park just before 7pm and after voting in the hall was surprised when she was stopped from driving out just minutes later.
Mrs Bevan admits using a swear word but says that was as an expression of total disbelief and frustration at the situation and not directed at any carnival official.
She was due in Beckington where a choir of 40 elderly people were waiting in the freezing cold to be let into their rehearsal room and says that she felt she had no other option than to drive round the barrier to get out.
Mrs Bevan said: "I was let in by a carnival marshal who had to move a partial barrier across the side road. I told her I was voting but she did not say she could not let me out afterwards. I was only a few minutes and when I asked to be let out she walked away."
Frustrated, she got on to the road where she was stopped by another marshal and then escorted along the carnival route and out of the Westfield area.
Mrs Bevan said she had not seen any road closed signs before arriving at the polling station and had not realised it was carnival night.
She said: "I very reluctantly have to go court although I have not the money to pay a fine or for a solicitor to represent me. I believe I should raise awareness of this petty behaviour and the small mindedness of it."
Midsomer Norton Carnival chairman Steve Collins said that the road closures were fully publicised and that while the road had been closed at 7pm the marshals would have done their best to help out in the circumstances.
Radstock police sergeant Geoff Cannon said: "I can confirm that a woman motorist was issued with a public order fixed penalty notice. This was for failing to comply with a lawful road closure on carnival night and followed an altercation with a carnival marshal who, for health and safety reasons, was rightly trying to enforce that closure."