The post baby glow was dimmed for first time parents after they left the hospital with their bundle of joy – and a parking ticket.
Desperate dad-to-be Stephen Knight parked his car in the last free space at the hospital, as wife Zoe Bellevue de Sylva went into labour, before returning to find he had a parking ticket.
Just as their newborn baby, Phoebe, was being born, eagle-eyed car park wardens at the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancs., were making a special delivery of their own.
Zoe, who actually works at the hospital, said: “What else were we supposed to do with the baby on the verge of being born?”
Despite midwives saying the car should be OK, Stephen returned to the vehicle following the birth to find a penalty sticker on the windscreen.
The fine, which started off as a £20 fine has now risen to £110 during a battle to have the ticket rescinded. It is now in the hands of a debt recovery agency and there is even talk of bailiffs being sent round.
Speaking about the incident, Zoe’s mum Deborah said: “You couldn’t make it up.”
“They were desperate and that was the only space they could find near to the entrance at 4.30 in the morning.
“The staff told them they could leave the car there. And, let’s face it, they had more important things on their minds at that moment.”
After been in labour for two days, Zoe, 28, recalled: “I just needed to get in, she was being born, I was desperate and couldn’t wait any longer. I was having her.
“The only space available was a disabled one, so Ste parked there and we dashed in. He told one of the midwives where he had left the car and she said it didn’t matter. Getting me in was far more important.”
With the joy of welcoming their newborn baby, the car was the last thing on the new parents mind.
Zoe explained: “With all that was happening the car was forgotten about. It was only when we were leaving to go home that afternoon that we found the parking ticket.
“Since then we have been having a battle getting it withdrawn. I mean, I actually work in microbiology at the hospital, so it’s a bit embarrassing for me to be chased by a debt recovery agency.”
With the couple having enough on their hands caring for baby Phoebe, Mum Deborah, took up the battle of getting the fine scrapped, explaining:
“It’s been so upsetting for them both. It’s just such a horrible thing to happen on what should be the happiest day of their lives.
“I told them it was ridiculous and I would deal with it. I didn’t want them getting upset. But the fight I’ve had since then has been unbelievable.
“I didn’t think things could get so nasty over a £20 parking ticket. The bill now stands at £110 and they’ve put a debt recovery company on to them to get it back. I’m appalled.”
Paul Havey, executive director of finance at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Car park users who are issued a penalty charge notice (PCN) have a right to appeal, and explain any mitigating circumstances.
“That this couple were in labour and were advised where to park by our staff means the appeal would most likely be successful. We will look into this matter and resolve the situation.”