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Blog Posted in avatar   Johnny Summerton's Blog

A Paris parking fine - for a tractor

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By Johnny Summerton
Posted Jan 2, 2011 in Lifestyle
Another one of those daft stories that can only make you smile (surely) at the mistakes bureaucracy can sometimes makes.
We've probably all at one time or another had a brush with bureaucracy that has left us perhaps exasperated at the "jobsworth" attitude of some people and frustrated but shoulder-shrugging at the "them's the rules" explanation of others.
Occasionally though mistakes are made that are so self-evidently ridiculous that you've just got to laugh - haven't you?
Such is the case of Patrick Pilak who, just before Christmas, opened up his mail to discover a fine for a "parking infringement" issued in Paris.
Not so strange, you might be thinking. After all, if you're at all familiar with Paris you'll know just how difficult it can be to find a parking space at the best of times and the pre-Christmas shopping period was one that certainly encouraged the French capital's motorists to be more "creative" than ever.
Except Pilak isn't from Paris. In fact he's from nowhere near the city.
He's a farmer in the village of Gouzougnat in the département of Creuse slap, bang in the heart of rural France and almost 400 kilometres from the French capital.
And that fine? Well it wasn't just for your run-of-the-mill hatchback, a family saloon or even a hulking four-wheel drive some might insist piloting around Paris.
Nope (worse perhaps) it was for a tractor, owned by Pilak, which had apparently been illegally parked on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis at a point at which the street could most be definitely described as "colourful" or "a quarter best known for its ladies of easy virtue" as France 3 television described it.
It didn't take the 49-year-old bio farmer long to work out that there must have been some sort of mistake.
The registration number of the vehicle that had (apparently) committed the infraction tallied with that of his tractor, but it was also described as a "Ford" whereas Pilak drove a "Renault"...around his fields.
Apart from that of course, he couldn't possibly have been in Paris at the time in question as he had been working.
"I replied by registered mail explaining that the vehicle that had apparently been parked illegally was in fact a tractor - my tractor," he told France 3 news.
"And I added that I couldn't possibly have been where the alleged offence took place at the time indicated because I was working almost 400 kilometres away."
Pilak doesn't intend to pay the €11 fine and of course realises that that there has been some sort of mix-up.
But just to drive (sorry) home the point he calculated for Agence France Presse how long the (one-way) journey time would be from Gouzougnat to Paris.
"If I wanted to go to Paris it certainly wouldn't be by tractor,' he said.
"At 15 kilometres per hour maximum speed it would take more than 24 hours to make the trip."

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