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Daily reporter overturns council’s ‘heartless’ fining of sick girl’s dad

A fine issued to the father of a sick child has been overturned thanks to a regional daily.

Paul O’Donovan, whose 10-year-old daughter Lyla has undergone 17 brain surgeries since being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016, received a £60 penalty charge while taking her to an appointment within Newcastle’s Clean Air Zone.

There are currently no exemptions for blue badge holders or journeys taken for medical purposes, but Newcastle City Council has agreed to waive the charge after being contacted by Northern Echo reporter Daniel Hordon about the O’Donovan family’s hardship.

The Darlington-based Echo splashed on the council’s U-turn last Tuesday, pictured.

NE fine

Editor Gavin Foster told HTFP: “We absolutely understand the need to tackle environmental issues and fully support any measures like clean air zones which try to address this – but there was simply no consideration here for the plight of this family and many others facing similar difficulties.

“The initial response from the council was unacceptable and heartless.

“Thankfully when Daniel Hordon stepped in to highlight this issue the council reviewed the situation and revoked the fine and exempt them from any future charges.

“The council is now looking at the possibility of exemptions for all blue badge holders.

“At the Northern Echo, we pride ourselves in fighting or standing up for those without a voice and this is a great example of how we have made a real difference not just to this family, but possibly for many others. This is why local newspapers are so important.”