Patrons of a church in Aylesbury town centre have lambasted Bucks County Council “jobsworths” who have said that hearses and funeral cars can no longer park outside the church to transport coffins into the building.
There are two pay and display bays outside Aylesbury Methodist Church in Buckingham Street which have traditionally been coned off when a coffin is being transported to the building.
However Bucks County Council have instead suggested hearses are parked down the road and coffins are then carried up the hill.
Allan Horne, funeral steward at Aylesbury Methodist Church said: “For many years, we have used their cones to close the two parking bays outside the church to enable the hearse and funeral cars to stop, and carry out their funeral duties.
“The council are now insisting that we cannot do this, and will not allow us to use these bays.
“They suggest we park the hearse on the double yellow lines further down the road, and carry the coffin down the pavement.
“Not very dignified, I’m sure your readers would agree.
“With two parking bays out of use for, maybe, three hours, it means that our council lose a massive £6.00.”
Mark Averill, head of highways at Bucks County Council said: “Whilst enforcement officers are technically required to ensure that parking restrictions are enforced correctly, in distressing times such as funerals, we are willing to relax the regulations to allow hearses to park as necessary.
“We have taken the opportunity to remind our Civil Enforcement Officers that discretion can be applied in such situations.”
Despite this conciliatory statement, Allan says problems still continue outside the church which recently came to a head when there was a heated altercation with a parking warden.
He said: “At our last funeral a very belligerent traffic warden actually started to remove the cones.
“After a heated debate, he rang his boss, who had instructed him to do so, but refused to let me speak to the boss.
“This action has led to all this correspondence.
“They now suggest the hearse parks on the double yellow lines either side of the bays, meaning that the coffin would need to be carried down the pavement.” Bucks County Council ruled out the church putting out cones on the pay and display bays in front of the church to ensure nobody parks in the bays while a funeral takes place.
They said: “As you have no right to use your own cones to block entry to the bays, the only way you can ensure that they are available at the time you wish to park the hearse is to park another vehicle there prior to this and then move it when required (but that vehicle would need to correctly display a pay and display ticket).
“The only other option available is a total suspension of the bays and dispensation to park there but this is a chargeable service and arrangements would need to be made through our on-street contractor NSL.
“They charge £13 per bay for a suspension and a further £13 per vehicle for a dispensation to park within the suspended bay.
“They would cone off the bays and erect signage showing the closure at the indicated date and time.”
Allan added: “What they are suggesting would block access to Elsinor House and the apartments next to the church.”
The council suggested that the only legal method to ensure nobody parked in the bays would be to park other cars belonging to the church in the bays, but they would have to display valid and paid for pay and display tickets effectively meaning the church would still have to pay for parking.