‘Unfair parking fine after 30 minute queues at Luton Lidl’

An Athena ANPR sign at the Lidl.
An Athena ANPR sign at the Lidl.

A disabled woman who received a parking fine when shopping at Luton’s Lidl claims long queues and “not enough time” will catch shoppers out.

Gillian Hayes visited the Francis Street supermarket with her husband, Ray, on March 2 and claims she put her disabled badge on show.

However, the couple say they were shocked to receive a fine from Athena ANPR car park operators, for overstaying the 90 minute limit.

They also alleged that the parking information signs were “too high” and “not visible enough” for customers.

Gillian claimed: “One-and- a-half hours is no longer enough for a big shop - even if you do not have a disability - because it took 30 minutes to get past the checkout! Lidl is so busy.”

The couple were pleased that Athena ANPR cancelled the fine, and allocated three hours of free parking time to their car, as part of its scheme with disabled users.

But the Hayes wish to warn shoppers who may get “caught out” by “long queues, the short time limit, and poor signage.”

An Athena ANPR spokesman, said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and can confirm that as soon as we learnt that the customer was a blue badge holder, steps were immediately taken to cancel the PCN and provide an extended parking time allowance.

“On the occasion that a customer in possession of a blue badge regrettably receives a parking charge, we would encourage them to contact us directly so that we can cancel the charge and arrange to register their vehicle on our system.

“Additionally, we would advise customers with special requirements to get in touch.”

Athena ANPR also told the newspaper that there is one sign for every 6.5 spaces and two signs immediately in front of Lidl disabled bays at the front of the store.

Athena ANPR also informed the Luton News that signs are six-and-a-half feet high, but the Hayes’s claimed “some are more like 10ft!”

A Lidl spokeswoman, said: “We were extremely sorry to hear of this. We have car park management systems in place to help ensure availability of parking spaces for our customers, and it’s therefore extremely disappointing when we learn that a genuine customer has wrongfully received a fine. In the extremely unfortunate event that a Blue Badge holder receives a parking charge, we encourage them to get in touch so that the charge can be cancelled as swiftly as possible, and so that longer term solutions can be explored to provide assistance in the future.”