50 WI women were trapped in Windmill Lane car park for two hours by a badly parked car

Police were called after 50 WI women were left trapped in the village hall by a badly parked car.

Eight Women’s Institute groups from across Kent were attending the district annual general meeting Hollingbourne on Tuesday 4th July.

Members received a captivating talk on astrophysics from Dr Becky Parker, but were brought back to Earth with a bump when they emerged from the hall at 9.20pm only to find a Silver Mercedes Saloon blocking the car park exit. 

Staff from the Windmill pub and restaurant in Eyhorne Street came to the rescue of 50 WI members who were trapped in a village hall car park in Hollingbourne.

They were stranded off Eyhorne Street for more than two hours.

Kathy Taranzuk, the secretary of the Roseacre branch, said: “Everything at the meeting went fine until we came out and we realised we couldn’t get our cars out because somebody had just parked in the road.

“There were around 50 ladies, some of whom were disabled and very elderly.”

The 69-year-old Beechurst Close resident said the owner of the car lives on Eyhorne Street, which is linked to the village hall by a single track road pictured above. He is known to one of WI members but refused to talk to them when they knocked on his front door.

After Mrs Taranzuk called 101 police contacted the driver but he still did not move his car.

Rescue came when staff from the nearby Windmill Pub and Restaurant moved their cars at 11.30pm, allowing the WI members to drive across some grass onto the road.

Mrs Taranzuk criticised police for failing to intervene. She said: “If 50 old ladies stranded in a car park waiting for help is not an emergency I don’t know what is.

“I know police are stressed and are under pressure but that is no excuse. I think when you have 50 elderly ladies stranded in a car park it would have been worthy of sending somebody out.

“I would like to thank staff from the Windmill for their help, they were fantastic.”

Val Williams, secretary for the Hollingbourne WI, which hosted the meeting, said she was also disappointed with the apparent lack of concern.

She said: “We just sat, made a cup of tea and finished the cake.

“We were lucky to have Professor Parker to come and it was so embarrassing when she couldn’t leave.”

A spokesman for Kent Police, said they did not send out an officer to the incident as it was a civil matter and they were busy dealing with a number of serious emergencies.

She said: “While Kent Police understands the frustration of those affected, there was no suggestion of lives being in danger.”

Parking has become an issue in the Eyhorne Street Conservation area since the imposition of an £85 penalty in June for non customer parking in the the Windmill PH car park, restrictions on the Village Hall Car Park, and the loss of garages at affordable rents in Eyhorne Mews. There is concern that the matter could be become worse if planning permission is given for housing in Windmill Lane which is a privately owned public footpath (PROW KH199).

(Report based on Kent Online account)

The redecorated front of the Windmill PH in Eyhorne Street where the Chef/Patron is Richard Phillips. At the rear is the Village Hall and car parks which approached by the single track public footpath PROW KH199