A PARKING company has been branded ‘Scrooge’ for refusing to overturn a charge issued on Christmas Eve amid claims warning signs were obscured by snow.
Paul Christison, 48, visited the Morrison’s car park, in Consett, with his disabled mother, Marie, for a big festive shop on the morning of December 24, but they overstayed by 40 minutes.
The former history teacher, who had parked his Jaguar in a disabled bay, said the wintry weather meant he could not see the signs informing customers of a three-hour limit.
Now Highview Parking is insisting he owes them £60 and pleas for leniency given his mothers’ disability have cut no ice with the firm.
A letter from the company said not being aware of the restrictions is ‘not considered a mitigating circumstance for appeal’.
But Mr Christison said the firm was acting like the mean character in famous festive Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol.
He said: “The signage was extremely obscured due to the heavy snow fall. We had to get two sets of shopping in because of my mother’s disability means she is a lot slower. They are being a bit Scrooge.”
Mrs Christison, who was widowed two years ago, is 74, and suffers severe osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia.
Mr Christison said he parked in a disabled bay as his mother is a blue badge holder and he is her carer.
He added: “I feel they are discriminating against my mother. She cannot walk or stand unaided. She is in a lot of pain and has to take many rests.
“This combined with adverse weather conditions and the problems arising as a result added to her slow movements and taking extra care in and out of the shop.
“I feel the charge is penalising my mother for being slow and having mobility issues.
“The Equality Act 2010 states Blue Badge holders must be treated with understanding and can’t be discriminated against.”
Parking at the Morrison’s car park in Consett is managed by Highview Parking, which is part of Group Nexus.
The Highview Parking phone number is automated so there was no-one available to comment. The Northern Echo has also contacted Group Nexus for comment.
A letter from company, in response to Mr Christison’s appeal, said: “The charge was issued and the signage is displayed in compliance with The British Parking Association’s Approved Operator Scheme Code of Practice and all relevant laws and regulations.
“Clear signs at the entrance of this site and throughout inform drivers of the three hours maximum stay time, and it is not possible to access any part of the premises without passing multiple signs.
“The fact that you were unaware of the restrictions that are in place is not considered a mitigating circumstance for appeal.
“Blue badges entitle drivers to up to three hours of parking on council owned sites, but do not exempt drivers from the terms and conditions prominently displayed at private sites such as this one, as confirmed in the Blue Badge holders’ handbook.
“In light of this, on this occasion, your representations have been carefully considered and rejected.”
Morrison said the car park was owned by Durham County Council.
The authority has been contacted by The Northern Echo for comment.