St Albans mum gets left with fine after pram is confiscated

Photo courtesy of Google 2016 - Aldwick Court in Cell Barnes Lane.

Photo courtesy of Google 2016 - Aldwick Court in Cell Barnes Lane. - Credit: Archant

A single mum has criticised the council for taking her child’s pram and imposing a fine after she left it in the communal area of a block of flats.

Dawn Callaghan, 26, was visiting her sister at her flat in Aldwick Court, in Cell Barnes Lane, which is owned by St Albans council, when her one-year-old son’s buggy was taken, leaving her with a £50 fine.

Dawn maintained that she had taken her son and “quite a few” bags of shopping to her sisters and as a result, left the pushchair in the communal block while she “sorted her son out”. She claimed that when she returned to put it away a caretaker who worked in the building had removed it.

She continued: “I was only visiting and I don’t always leave it there, I was just about to put it in the outside cupboard.

“I originally thought it was stolen but it has been stored somewhere until I pay the fine.

“I know it’s a health and safety issue but it’s difficult because although he (her son) is old enough to walk, he can’t get up the stairs.

“It’s quite a big block and so it wasn’t in the way.”

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Dawn added that she had only left the pushchair for about an hour and had since had to borrow one as she could not afford to pay the fine to get it back.

She added: “My only option is to try and get the money, but I just can’t so I don’t know what I will do.”

Karen Dragovic, St Albans council’s head of housing, commented: “This is a legal requirement under fire regulations to ensure that people can exit safely in the event of a fire of some other emergency.

“Residents at this block have complained about pushchairs being left in communal areas and causing obstruction.”

Ms Dragovic said that it was not the first time Dawn has been guilty of leaving the pram in the communal area and that she was previously “given a verbal warning and asked not to leave it there again”.

She added: “The charge is intended to deter people from blocking communal areas. If we didn’t take such action, we could be blamed for any accident.

“We have been speaking to the owner - who was visiting a relation and is not a resident - and have offered to reduce the amount involved.”