A DOZEN mourners were slapped with £100 parking fines while they paid their last respects to a friend.
Family and friends were stunned after they left the funeral of Hartlepool Tennis Club’s honorary secretary George Shepherd, 81, at All Saint’s Church, Stranton, in Hartlepool.
Twelve drivers who had attended the service, many of them pensioners, got back to their cars in the pouring rain to find tickets had been slapped on their vehicles, which were parked at the nearby Stranton Retail Park, behind the disused Allied Carpets and Comet shops.
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The actions of parking firm UK CPS have been branded as “absolutely disgraceful” after the mourners were targeted during the service for the former ICI worker and granddad-of-six, around 2.15pm on Monday.
Ann Lawn, a friend of Mr Shepherd’s and member of the tennis club, was so outraged she contacted the Hartlepool Mail from the wake to express her anger.
The Fens resident, who was hit with a £100 fine, which reduces to £60 if paid in 14 days, said: “There were very small notices on the wall but we didn’t notice them as it was pouring with rain.
“We got our umbrellas up and it was the last thing on our mind.
“George’s wife Bel had enough to be upset about without worrying about us, but we’re all very annoyed.”
Mrs Lawn said the signs should be more prominent and added: “It spoiled what should have been a chance to remember George.”
Lynn and Peter Grylls, both 65, were also issued with tickets.
Lynn, a retired bank worker and mum-of-two and grandmother-of-four from the Foggy Furze area, said: “It’s disrespectful, they are preying on people who have got their minds elsewhere.”
Retired engineer Peter added: “There isn’t anywhere else to park.”
Mr Shepherd’s sons, Kevin, 52, Peter, 50, and Stephen, 48, did not get fined as they were in the funeral cortege’s limousines.
But Peter, from the Rift House area, said: “We didn’t want a black mark on the occasion.
“They were doing it to make money, not to reserve spaces, as nobody is trading there.”
Tracy McClelland, 52, a Golden Flatts Primary School administrator whose 58-year-old husband Colin’s car was ticketed, said: “You just think how dreadful, the price of paying your respects now is £60, that’s if you pay on time.”
Reverend Andrew Craig, from the church, said he had warned parishioners about the new parking rules, which came into force last month, after the church organist was also fined by parking attendants.
He added: “It’s very unfortunate, unhelpful and inappropriate that the owners of this piece of land have suddenly started to issue people with parking fines.”
Church warden Sylvia Shepherd added: “To just book people who were going to a funeral, and it’s more than likely they were wearing black, without warning, is absolutely disgraceful.”
The Mail visited the site and saw three signs saying parking permits were needed on one wall and two on another, with bollards closing off the end closest to the church but open access to the Burn Road entrance.
UKCPS manager Peter Haswell said: “We are not about causing distress to anybody but only doing our jobs.
“The land owners asked us to patrol that land as it is private land and they are trying to let it.
“We have an appeals procedure people can follow.”