Parked car traps women in the loo

Joseph Bulmer

Inconsiderate parking leaves mobility scooter ladies trapped in corner of Instow’s Marine Parade car park.

THOUGHTLESS parking at Instow could have led to worse than a ticket after two disabled ladies were left trapped behind a heavy metal fence on one of the coldest days of the year.

Wendy Hilling and her friend, both on mobility scooters, had stopped to use the toilets at Marine Parade Car Park, but when they went to leave they found an unthinking car driver had parked across the toilet access, completely blocking them in.

The temperature was only just above freezing and the pair were hemmed in a narrow corridor by the boat park fence on one side and a skip on the other.

Fortunately, Mrs Hilling’s husband Peter and her friend’s carer were not too far away. After a fruitless 20 minute search for the owner of the red BMW estate car, they were able to free the women by shoving the heavy fence and its concrete anchors out of the way.

“This was dangerous, not just inconvenient,” said Mrs Hilling.

“If it had been an elderly person on their own and with no mobile phone, no one would have known they were there. You could have died of hypothermia that day, it was so cold.”

She said the toilet access had been regularly blocked in the past and she had contacted the council to ask for a “keep clear” sign there.

Nigel Young, parking services officer for North Devon Council, said together with Instow Parish Council, a close eye was being kept on access issues at the car park.

“Only last month we had ‘keep clear’ markings repainted to allow safe access to the toilets and there are ‘no parking’ signs clearly displayed throughout the car park,” he said.

“Unfortunately the council cannot be available to enforce parking at the car park on a permanent basis due to staff resources, but we will attend whenever we can.

“We expect motorists to use common sense and act considerately. It is very unfortunate this motorist ignored the signs, trapping the ladies and causing them a great deal of distress.”