Lewisham Foodbank donation in a van
The volunteer was unloading food when the vehicle was spotted by a camera (Photo: Lewisham Foodbank)

Donors have stepped up to pay parking fines for one of SE London’s biggest food banks after it was slapped with £130 in tickets for loading and unloading outside one of its centres.

The penalty charges were racked up by a Lewisham Foodbank volunteer outside the Salvation Army base on Brownhill Road in Catford. Food bank volunteers said the charges amounted to the cost of six food parcels and that Lewisham Council has been refunding similar fees.

But because Brownhill Road is part of the South Circular Road, the fees are levied by Transport for London – which said it had warned the food bank before about parking problems.

TfL had cancelled earlier parking charges, but would not do so this time around.

After the food bank posted about the incident on social media, donors have covered the cost of the fines. And after 853 raised the issue with TfL, it is now talking to the food bank to try to resolve the problems.

Caro Swan, a food bank volunteer, explained that the charity delivers more than 100 crates to the Brownhill Road every Thursday morning.

“Parking in the gyratory car park nearby isn’t an option as the crates are heavy. There is a loading bay on Brownhill Road which, if occupied, leaves nowhere else for our drivers to park,” she said.

“On this particular occasion the loading bay was occupied throughout our allotted delivery time, between 10 and 11 am. The driver waited behind the loading bay expecting it to clear, which it didn’t – this was when he received his first PCN.

“He then drove round the block a couple of times hoping that on return the loading bay would be empty, which it wasn’t. He then mounted the wide pavement, causing no obstruction, in order to deliver the crates. The camera spotted this and he was issued his second PCN.”

Salvation Army base in Catford
The food bank uses the Salvation Army building in Catford as a base (Image: Google)

Swan said she had tried to ask the NHS trust which uses the building next door if the food bank could use its car park for an hour each week, but that the South London and Maudsley Trust had not responded to her requests.

However she said the food bank had been “heartened to have had donations flooding in which have way more than covered the cost of the PCNs”. She added: “We are incredibly grateful.”

Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL’s general manager of road user charging, told 853: “We appreciate the valuable work that Lewisham Foodbank does on behalf of the community, which is why we waived previous fines around Christmas, but did stress the importance of sticking to the rules in the future.

“It is essential that we protect the vulnerable, and even more so during the pandemic, which is why we enforce traffic regulations on our roads. Keeping the traffic moving safely and efficiently means that the response times of emergency services vehicles are not affected.

“We also try to stop vehicles parking on pavements because they act as a dangerous hazard to wheelchair users and the partially sighted and make it harder for people to maintain social distancing. We would be happy to work with the charity to help them provide the vital support they do in a safe way.”

Swan said that TfL had been in touch and “will do all in their power to help us find a solution at this particular location as it’s an ongoing situation every week”.

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