£60 fine after stopping for a Happy Meal

The Churchwill Way retail park in Leyland town centre
The Churchwill Way retail park in Leyland town centre

A shopper is outraged after claiming a queue at Leyland’s McDonald’s ended in her being slapped with a hefty parking fine.

Claire Halliwell, 32, was shopping with her two-year-old daughter Daisy at the Churchill Way retail park, and says she left her parking space before the allocated two hour time limit was up.

But after going through the McDonald’s drive-through to treat the youngster to a Happy Meal, she left the car park 12 minutes later than allowed.

She’s been sent a notice for a £60 fine from Parking Eye, which has cameras at the entrance to the site, to clock when people are entering and leaving.

But Claire believes the fine is unfair, and wants the firm to ‘listen to reason’.

She said: “I went into almost every single shop on that retail park, and I’ve even sent Parking Eye all of my receipts to show that I was shopping there. Some people park there for free and go shopping into the town centre, but I was legitimately using that car park, and now I’ve been penalised.

“I left the parking space before the two hour time limit, but I went into the McDonald’s drive-through and got stuck in a queue.

“I didn’t think it mattered though because I’d left my parking space, and McDonald’s has its own spaces within that car park, as well as the drive-through.

“I think it’s a real flaw in the system – they take a photo when the cars go in and out, but they don’t know where the cars are once they’re in the car park.

“They should have a parking attendant or more cameras.”

The single mum, who lives in Croston and is a self-employed salon owner, added: “I’ve appealed the fine and it’s been refused, but Parking Eye has given me a two-week grace period to give them evidence that I meet ‘discretionary criteria’, but I don’t know what that is.

“I’ve sent them all of my receipts. The only one I didn’t keep was for the Happy Meal, but who would?

“Without that though, I don’t know what more I can do.”

Claire argues that the firm should be ‘more lenient’ under certain circumstances.

“I wasn’t pushing my luck”, she said. “I went there because the shops are cheaper and I was trying to save money, but it’s ended up costing me £60 for the sake of a Happy Meal.

“I just think it’s so unfair. It’s ridiculous that they won’t listen to reason.”

Parking Eye would not comment on the McDonald’s arrangement and refused to answer the Guardian’s questions about ‘discretionary criteria’.

A spokesman said: “Car park users enter into a contract to pay the appropriate amount for the duration of their visit or not exceed free parking limits.

“In this case, the car park user overstayed in the car park that is clearly signposted for a maximum stay time of two hours.

“We operate an audited appeals process and encourage people to appeal if they feel there are mitigating circumstances.

“If a motorist disagrees with our decision they have the option to appeal to the independent appeals service, which on this occasion the motorist has not done.”