A retired wrestler has vowed to continue his fight against people who park illegally in disabled bays in Hebburn town centre – despite most of his protest petition being lost.
John Welsh, 77, said three sheets containing around 160 signatures and collected late last year had been misplaced by a fellow campaigner.
He admitted plans to quickly submit the petition to council chiefs had been derailed until the summer, when he could again take to the streets to gather fresh support.
But he insisted the setback was only temporary and had not fatally undermined his campaign.
Mr Welsh, who fought 3,500 fights professionally in his stage name Black Mask, said: “This is not the end of it at all.
“Three of us had gone out in the cold before Christmas and got all these signatures, but one the guys says he now can’t find three sheets with names on.
“It’s too cold to go there at the moment, so we’ll probably wait until the summer before it’s warm enough to gather more names, but we will be back.
“The question that needs to be asked is why am I and others like me having to get a petition together when the council and its traffic wardens should just be doing their jobs.
“When you see all these people parking illegally, it’s like an epidemic. The council really should be doing something about it.”
Mr Welsh, from Hebburn, started the petition in November in anger at what he says is indiscriminate parking in bays reserved for Blue Badge holders.
In just two days he and fellow campaigners had secured over 200 signatures.
He claims the problem has existed for more than a decade and that it is time South Tyneside Council clamped down.
The Blue Badge holder has identified the main area of concern as being around bays outside Asda, on Station Road, and in the Hebburn Central car park, on Glen Street.
And he says the worst period is after 5pm on weekdays, and on Saturdays.
His plan for action incudes the introduction of CCTV to catch illegal parkers.
South Tyneside Council has insisted it carries out regular patrols and issues Penalty Charge Notices to people who park illegally.
It has urged motorists to park courteously and only use disabled bays if they have the right to do so.