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Mum hit with parking fine for using parent bay divides opinion on social media

PUBLISHED: 11:07 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:35 21 September 2018

Jenna Brett with her son Elliot  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jenna Brett with her son Elliot Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A mum slapped with a parking fine after being accused of “misusing” a parent bay at a Suffolk supermarket has divided opinion.

Jenna Brett’s husband parked in one of the six parent spaces at the Co-op in Combs Lane, Combs Ford and stayed in the car with their sleeping son, Elliot, while she ran in to grab some supplies.

She was back at the car within five minutes and the couple headed home to Wayside Close.

But a week later husband Martin was shocked to receive a parking charge notice in the post from National Parking Enforcement, who manage the car park on behalf of the East of England Co-op.

They were told they had been fined £100 because Jenna had not taken Elliot out of the car – therefore misusing the bay.

Jenna Brett is concerned after  receiving large parking fines from a parent and child space with her son Elliot  at a Co-op  in Combs Ford   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJenna Brett is concerned after receiving large parking fines from a parent and child space with her son Elliot at a Co-op in Combs Ford Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jenna said: “I had never heard of that rule before, and know lots of other parents hadn’t either.”

There is a sign at the car park advising parents children should be taken out of the car if they are using these bays – otherwise they can choose one of the other 100 spaces available.

Child and parent spaces at Co-op Combs Ford Picture: HARRY COBBOLDChild and parent spaces at Co-op Combs Ford Picture: HARRY COBBOLD

The couple were told the fine would be reduced to £60 if they paid within 14 days but they opted to appeal – claiming it was unfair to penalise them.

“Our baby genuinely had only just fallen asleep and we noticed when we parked up, so that is why my husband stayed in the car with him,” Jenna added.

Co-op store in Combs Ford, Stowmarket Picture: HARRY COBBOLDCo-op store in Combs Ford, Stowmarket Picture: HARRY COBBOLD

Their appeal was rejected twice, meaning their fine has now increased to £160.

Jenna’s experience divided opinion when she posted about it on Facebook, with some parents supporting her while others claimed she had taken advantage of the extra-wide spaces.

Sign explaining the rule at the Co-op in Stowmarket Picture: HARRY COBBOLDSign explaining the rule at the Co-op in Stowmarket Picture: HARRY COBBOLD

One parent said: “The space is for parents to get the child out of the car in easier/wider spaces. Don’t be so lazy and park in a normal space. You have no right parking there if you don’t get the child out.”

Another said: “If you had no intention of getting your child out of the car you didn’t need to park in a parent and child spot. Parent and child spots allow extra door room for getting children/car seats in and out of the car not yourself.”

Hitting back, Jenna added: “I understand why people would say we shouldn’t have parked there but I think it’s just habit when you have kids. They are generally the first spaces you see so if one is free you park there.

“As I don’t drive I walk or bike everywhere so it’s definitely not because I’m lazy.

“People are entitled to their opinions but we know there was no motive behind it.”

Another poster experienced a similar issue and said: “We are currently appealing a fine. We did not take my two-year-old out of the car as he was having a major meltdown so my other half went into the Co-op and I stayed in the car with him.”

Lee Hammond, head of security at the East of England Co-op said: “In December 2016 we put parking enforcement in place at our Combs Ford store to ensure customers that needed to access disabled or parent and child spaces were able to do so.

“Clear signage explains that parent and child bays are only valid if a child 12 years or less leaves the vehicle to enter the store.

“All parking notices are dealt with by a third party company and we would urge anyone who feels they may have been issued a parking notice incorrectly to follow the official appeals process.”

National Parking Enforcement said: “The bays are positioned and designed to allow safe exit and entry from or to the vehicle and for the loading and unloading of shopping, buggies and pushchairs. The bays are also wider to prevent children opening doors which ay collide with a neighbouring vehicle.

“The bays are also position closer to the business which reduced health and safety issues relating to moving traffic.

“If a driver has no intention of taking his or her child or children in to the business, there is no need to take advantage of a parent and child parking bay, if a driver considers it an appropriate parenting choice to leave young children unattended in a vehicle, then they should park in a regular parking bay, and allow those parents who wish to visit the business with their children, the right and the opportunity to utilise the bay for its correct and proper use.

“Whilst it may seem inconvenient and time consuming to unstrap your child and take them with you, it is not as inconvenient as having to park in a smaller bay further from the business and risk damage to neighbouring vehicles and increase the chance of injury to your child.”

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