Fury at ‘jobsworth’ warden who tried to ticket a funeral cortège during service

Fury at ‘jobsworth’ warden who tried to ticket a funeral cortège during service

Funeral director Justin Burgess says a warden tried to ticket his funeral cortège (Picture: Pen News)

Mourners have hit out at a ‘jobsworth’ parking warden who tried to ticket a funeral cortège during a service.

The group had gathered to bid a final goodbye to a loved-one at Welwyn Garden City United Reformed Church in Hertfordshire and were getting ready to leave when the parking enforcer turned up.

Funeral director Justin Burgess said he explained to the warden that there was nowhere else they could park near the church and asked him to have ‘a bit of compassion’ for the mourners.

But the inspector was unmoved.

Welwyn Hatfield Council has since said it can, at its discretion, offer parking dispensation to funeral vehicles but not for zigzag lines, which it claims the cortege was parked on.

Mr Burgess explained: ‘We were parked outside the church with a hearse and two limousines, attending a funeral inside the church.

‘It’s very limited where you can park funeral vehicles to get access to a church. This particular church is on the side of a road; that’s the only place there is to park.

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‘I came out at the end of a service. I saw the traffic warden there, and he got his little pad out to start ticketing us, and I said ‘you’ve got to be joking’.

‘I said “we’re only going to be 10-15 minutes more, can you just go for a walk round the block?”

‘He said ‘no’. I said, “have a bit of compassion, this is a funeral”. And he started remonstrating with me.’

Keen not to make a scene, Bur Burgess went back inside the church to check on the family, who had lingered in the church.

When challenged, the warden called a colleague at ‘head office’ for backup, Mr Burgess said.

‘The woman on the other end of the phone was just vile,’ Justin said. ‘She was saying “just ticket them, just ticket them. They’re breaking the law!”

‘And I sort of shouted over his shoulder, I said “look, as I explained to your colleague here, please have a little bit of feeling – this is a funeral, this is the last thing the family wants”.

‘And she said “right, that’s it, I’m calling the police.”‘

He continued: ‘Unfortunately, in the meantime, the next of kin came out and they were really upset.

A vicar from the church speaks to the inspector (Picture: Pen News/Justin Burgess)

‘She said “are you seriously going to put a ticket on my mum’s hearse? I can’t believe you’re doing this to us.”‘

The family were then ready to leave and the cortège made a quick escape before a ticket was issued.

Mr Burgess said: ‘Had we not stood and argued all that time we would have had a ticket, but we just argued and argued, by which time we were ready to leave.

‘We’ve got another church, in Hatfield by the station, and it’s almost like they’re waiting in the bushes. The minute the mourners park, they’re out issuing their tickets.’

He added: ‘I think it’s just a jobsworth doing his job.’

Shocked at the incident, the funeral director shared photos of what happened, which even show the vicar appealing to the warden.

Several local residents voiced their anger.

‘Absolutely disgusting,’ one said, while another added: ‘Anyone who has a brain or a heart would look the other way.’

Th council said they can show discretion to funeral vehicles but not when they’re parked on a zig-zags (Picture: Pen News/Justin Burgess)

A third said: ‘It does not matter that no ticket was issued – he caused a grieving family more stress on a day when no one should be hassled, I’m sorry but it’s disgusting on every level.”

While a fourth commented: ‘I’d like to see the council staff park further down the road and have to carry a coffin, especially in this weather!

A Welwyn Hatfield Council spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of an incident involving our parking contractor.

‘The contractor requested that a vehicle parked on a pedestrian crossing’s zig-zag lines, obstructing the view of pedestrians and approaching traffic, be moved to a safer location.

‘Whilst we do operate a dispensation for funeral vehicles, no vehicle can be given a dispensation to park on zig-zags.

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‘This poses a safety risk to people crossing the road and could result in a serious accident.

‘The funeral party was not present when the contractor initially requested the vehicle to be moved, and we want to reiterate that no parking tickets were issued.’

The spokesperson added that the council was ‘deeply regretful’ that the incident caused distress to the funeral party and that it had reached out to the family.

‘We have also asked the contractors to review their processes and training, to ensure that all officers can convey safety implications clearly and with the upmost sensitivity,’ they said.

Last year, a mistakenly-issued parking ticket cost construction worker Dwight Henry his business – and forced him to lay off 10 staff.

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