POLICE threatened to tow an Eastbourne woman’s car after the council painted a disabled parking bay around it and neighbours reported the vehicle had been abandoned.
Helen McCabe’s family Christmas in Liverpool was interrupted by a bizarre phone call from her house-sitter, saying police were preparing to impound her Rover 75, parked just outside her home in Desmond Road.
Baffled, Ms McCabe – co-founder of Catalyst Arts which encourages community art in Eastbourne – phoned the police to discover Eastbourne Borough Council had daubed the road underneath and around her car with disabled parking lines and a neighbour told police the car had been dumped there.
Ms McCabe said, “When our house-sitter phoned up I thought she was joking. I knew there wasn’t a bay there when I left so I thought she must be joking.
“I was a bit confused. Everyone kept saying ‘are you sure you haven’t parked there?’
“We thought ‘they can’t have done that, surely?’.
“I didn’t think they would do it three days before Christmas.”
The council said it was standard procedure to paint around a car if an owner could not be found.
Council leader David Tutt said, “I have spoken to Ms McCabe and offered a personal apology for what happened.
“A routine piece of work was complicated by a rather unusual set of circumstances. The fact the car remained in the bay would not normally cause a problem, as disabled bays of this type are not enforceable by the police.
“It is simply a ‘courtesy bay’ which relies on other motorists respecting the fact someone living nearby needs to use it.”
Councillor Tutt added, “The combination of the misleading abandoned car report and the holiday period resulted in understandable concern and I am sorry for the distress and inconvenience this caused.”
A police spokesperson said, “An Eastbourne Police Community Support Officer checked the vehicle on her patrol to see if it was insured, taxed and had not been vandalised. As all was in order the PCSO then informed the local council to remove the abandoned parking marker on the car. As a result the car was not towed away.”
The parking bay was painted on December 22 using a pole which might have caused damage to Ms McCabe’s vehicle. A neighbour called on the house-sitter to ask if she could remove the car and Ms McCabe arranged for her father-in-law to go over and push the car into a different parking spot.
Ms McCabe added, “Police were very much matter of fact about it and councillors said it was interestingly peculiar.
“I can laugh about it now, but not knowing what was going on was a bit worrying at the time.”