Disgruntled Barrow motorists condemn parking fines after House of Lords fire
A DRIVER who came to the aid of a distressed friend who had been evacuated from her home following a huge blaze in Barrow has been left infuriated after being slapped with a parking fine.
Michelle Wass, of Foundry Street, Barrow, drove to pick up her friend after police evacuated residents in Hawke Street as a safety precaution following a huge fire which engulfed the House of Lords in Abbey Road on January 11.
Keen to support her friend during this upsetting time, the pair took solace in The Range car park from 9.15pm as they waited for updates from the police.
However, despite parking there when the store was shut, controversial car parking system ParkingEye, who run The Range car park, fined Mrs Wass a minimum of £60 for using it out-of-hours.
The 29-year-old said: "The store was closed so I don't know why there was an issue. We didn't get out of the car to view the fire – emergency services were doing their job and we knew that the last thing they needed was more spectators.
"I am definitely not paying it. I will contest it because I think it's bang out of order.
"If they look at the cameras they will see that we never left the car. We couldn't stay on the end of the road because fire engines were using Hawke Street. At the same time, we didn't want to be too far away in case she was allowed back.
"My friend was concerned about her house. At that stage, the roof of the House of Lords was on the verge of collapsing and there were rumours about an explosion. She was really quite distressed and was in a right state."
If Mrs Wass doesn't pay the fine by tomorrow it will increase to £100 and she could be taken to court by ParkingEye, who she has labelled as "bullies".
Mrs Wass added: "I think they have seen lots of cars parking up there and seen an opportunity to make money. They need to take into consideration that people could have lost their homes that night."
Tracey Glover, of Middlefield, Ormsgill, was also left aggrieved when she and her partner, Alan Griffiths, were threatened with a fine after using the car park on the night of the fire.
The 48-year-old said: "My partner is panicking. We haven't got £100. We are both photographers and we did it for a reason. That car park was the only place we could park and there were no barriers to prevent people from parking there.
"We were only there for 20 or 30 minutes and there were about 10 others cars there at the same time as us.
"I think ParkingEye are taking the mick and there are a lot of people who have been stung by this. They haven't taken into context exactly what happened that evening. They are just a business that wants to make money and I think they are lulling people into a false sense of security."
A ParkingEye spokesperson, said: “There are numerous signs at The Range car park informing drivers that parking is prohibited outside store opening hours.
"We encourage people who have received a parking charge to appeal if they think there are mitigating circumstances, and instructions about how to do this are detailed on all communications and on our website.”