Volunteer hit with £100 parking fee while collecting food for needy

John Woodhouse stands in front of a parking sign and car park on Earlham Road in Norwich

John Woodhouse at the car park in Earlham Road. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

A volunteer who dedicates his time to collecting food donations for vulnerable people has spoken of his anger after being left with a £100 parking penalty.

Six days a week, retired teacher John Woodhouse, of Norwich, parks up to collect food donations made at the Co-op on Earlham Road in the city.

Each day, he parks outside of Earlham House, gathers the parcels before delivering them to the Norwich Food Hub at the Phoenix Centre in Mile Cross.

A paved area at the back of shops near Earlham House in Norwich

The area outside Earlham House where John Woodhouse parked. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

However, on March 31, he arrived to find his usual spaces obstructed by hoses being used by contractors that were cleaning the building's windows, so instead parked in what he thought was a convenient spot outside.

But a few weeks later, he was shocked and angered when a letter from National Parking Enforcement landed on his doorstep, calling on him to pay a £100 penalty charge for where he had left his car.

And while the parking firm insisted there were other spaces available in the car park for him to use, Mr Woodhouse argues that as some were obstructed the charge should not stand.

A parking sign stood on a grass verge next to a car park.

The sign warning drivers of parking restrictions at the Earlham House site. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

He said: "I was there no longer than around three minutes so I didn't think it would be a problem.

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"It's certainly made me feel really angry, although I have since calmed down."

Mr Woodhouse argues that as the contractors meant NPE could not ensure spaces were available to be used for parking, the company should not be able to issue penalty notices for this time.

A spokesman for NPE though said "multiple bays were available".

Mr Woodhouse has appealed against the charge, but has since seen this rejected, along with a subsequent appeal with an independent adjudicator.

He added: "I thought when I explained the circumstances that they would be reasonable. 

"As I'm a retired teacher I am a real stickler for the rules but you'd think in this case there could be exceptions made.

"I thought I had made a reasonable decision to park where I did so as not to disrupt the contractors - I didn't expect to be charged so much for it."