Man dismayed after receiving parking fine while donating blood

Oliver Forder-Wilcox and a carpark

Oliver Forder-Wilcox, inset, received a fine after parking at Lidl carpark in North Walsham while donating blood at the town's community centre. - Credit: Google/Courtesy of Oliver-Forder Wilcox

A man's trip to the community centre proved unexpectedly costly after he was issued with a parking fine while donating blood.

Oliver Forder-Wilcox, 23, went to North Walsham Community Centre in New Road where NHS Blood and Transplant was receiving donations, on April 14 this year.

Mr Forder-Wilcox has been donating blood for the past six years. He has type O negative blood, which is often called the 'universal blood type' as anybody can receive it.

He normally parks at the community centre's car park but on that afternoon it was already full.

Lidl carpark North Walsham

The carpark, managed by private company Parking Eye, in North Walsham where a man received a parking fine while donating blood. - Credit: Google

He parked instead at the nearby Lidl supermarket carpark, where visitors are allowed 90 minutes free parking.

Mr Forder-Wilcox said that appointments for donating blood were running late that day and that he was parked at the carpark for about an hour and a half.

But about a week after his appointment, he was issued with the fine by Parking Eye, the private company which manages the carpark.

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Mr Forder-Wilcox said: "Originally I understood why I got the fine but I assumed that if I appealed it, they would understand."

Two appeals, the first including evidence he had been donating blood and the second showing proof that appointments had been running late that day, were rejected.

Mr Forder-Wilcox said he is frustrated that the company says his reasons for appeal are not sufficient grounds for waiving the £90 fine.

"It's another of these faceless corporations, who just want to take your money," he said.

"I don't feel like I got a response from a human."

Parking Eye has failed to respond to this newspaper's request for a comment.

A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Forder-Wilcox had problems with parking in a nearby supermarket car park when attending a blood donation session in April.

“Donors for the session at North Walsham Community Centre are able to park in the pay and display car park next to the centre.

“We aim to have donors through the process of giving blood within 60 minutes but there are times, due to additional needs of donors or during busy times, that this is not possible.

“All our donors are incredibly appreciated, and we’d like to thank Mr Forder-Wilcox for helping to save and improve lives by giving blood," the spokesperson said.

In 2018, BBC Watchdog said it received more complaints about ParkingEye than any other parking company - but the firm says...

In 2018, BBC Watchdog said it received more complaints about ParkingEye than any other parking company - but the firm says only a minority of customers have a problem. Picture: P Fuller - Credit: Archant

New code of practice could protect drivers

In February the government announced that a new code would give drivers greater protection against excessive fines and aggressive enforcement by private parking firms.

Under a new code of practice, which ministers want to introduce, most fines will be slashed from £100 to £50, while wardens will be forced to give motorists a ten-minute ‘grace period’ for overstaying their ticket.

There will also be a simpler and fairer independent appeals process, giving more drivers the benefit of the doubt in cases involving honest mistakes or situations beyond their control.

The changes will apply for companies which oversee parking at locations such as retail parks and some NHS hospitals. 

Higher fines of £70 and £100 will remain for serious breaches such as parking in Blue Badge bays.

Excessive debt collection fees for late tickets, which can be as high as £70, will also be banned.