Wayne O’Donnell was on cloud nine inside Wigan Infirmary last weekend having watched his first son being born.
But he was brought back to earth with a firm bump hours later when he left the maternity ward to find he had been issued with a parking ticket.
I’m always a conscientious parker and that’s without my wife about to have a babyWayne O’Donnell
Adding to his frustration was that hospital staff had issued him with an exemption form, displayed in his car, while wife Louise was in labour.
Parking bosses at the third party firm operating at the hospital have enforced the penalty charge because they claim he was “causing an obstruction” for visitors and wheelchair users.
Thankfully the family’s predicament does have a happy ending though as hospital bosses have negotiated for the penalty to be rescinded.
Mr O’Donnell, 34, from Winstanley, had paid the fine and wanted to highlight the absurdity of his situation.
Jake Ted O’Donnell arrived in the early hours on Saturday after his parents drove to the Infirmary on Friday afternoon.
With no parking spaces available, Wayne, understandably in a hurry to get Louise to the maternity ward, parked on a grass verge in the car park.
He told the Observer: “I’m always a conscientious parker and that’s without my wife about to have a baby.
“We were given the exemption form by the sisters in the ward as Louise was in active labour. Little Jakey was born, I went out on cloud nine and was appalled to see the ticket. It’s not about the money, it’s thinking that this could happen again to others.”
Mr O’Donnell, a business support manager, said the exemption form and a note with his contact number were clearly visible on his windscreen.
But parking firm OCS rejected his appeal, stating his “vehicle was parked over a walk/pathway causing an obstruction to anyone on foot, wheelchairs users or anyone pushing a pushchair or pram.”
But Wayne has questioned whether the verge he parked on should be counted as a genuine pathway.
He said: “The letter said it would be passed on to a debt recovery firm if I didn’t pay and we don’t need that. It has taken me aback there’s no level of empathy.”
In a letter to the parking firm, maternity ward manager Anne Clayton had written: “Under the circumstances please could you use some discretion as this has spoiled their child’s birth day experience.”
Jake is Wayne and his wife’s first child and because Louise, 35, works as a PR officer for the Royal British Legion, friends of the pair had been saying they would have to name their daughter Poppy if she had been born on Remembrance Day. Wayne said: “When Louise went into Labour on November 11 we were joking that shows dedication to her job!”
David Evans, director of estates at the Infirmary, said although the car was blocking disabled and emergency access “more could have been done to support (him) at what was a stressful time”.
“We wish him and his new family all the very best for the future and do hope that this matter is now resolved to his satisfaction. FPNs are only issued as a last resort where obstruction is potentially hazardous to pedestrians and prevents.”