BE CAREFUL next time you use a loading bay – for loading.

You may get a parking ticket as community worker Michael Wharton did in Dewsbury town centre.

And it can now be revealed that almost 3,000 drivers have had such tickets for parking in loading bays since 2006.

Last month the Examiner reported that Paddock couple Jim and Geraldine O’Reilly were given a ticket after parking in a loading bay one evening while out for a meal at the Shang Thai in King Street, Huddersfield.

Jim is disabled and they got a £30 ticket even though he was displaying his blue badge.

Mr Wharton was fined for using a loading bay at Westgate, Dewsbury, to return a parcel to Argos on January 6.

Under current law, parking attendants – now called civil enforcement officers – may issue a ticket if they “believe” a loading bay is being used inappropriately.

But in a case in 1997, the Parking Adjudicator ruled that a person may leave his/her vehicle unattended for several minutes during the process of loading or unloading.

Traffic wardens hit Mr Wharton, of Leeds, with a fine after seeing his vehicle unattended for 10 minutes.

When Mr Wharton presented a receipt to Kirklees Council proving he had been loading his car, the council told him it was insufficient proof.

Only after Michael sent a signed statement from Argos did Kirklees cancel the ticket.

Kirklees Council has issued at least 2,891 tickets, worth more than £170,000, for parking in loading bays since July 2006.

Michael said: “It’s illegal. They should apply the law. It’s their job.

“It seems they have a hit and hope attitude and it’s not right. It’s the law and you have to follow it.

“I would suggest that anyone who has paid a fine for improper use of a loading bay to check to see if it was correctly issued.”

Neil Herron, of , said: “Loading isn’t just taking a box out of a vehicle and throwing it through a shop window!

“It’s carrying it into the place, maybe to a fridge and signing paperwork.

“Receipts and dockets are sufficient proof.

“Most appeals across the country are successful against any local authority.”

A spokesman for Kirklees Highways said: “The civil enforcement officers apply the rules consistently when taking enforcement action and always use observation time before issuing a fine notice to make sure that loading activity is not taking place. This observation period varies in length depending on the size of vehicle.

“If a fine has been issued then the driver has the right to appeal, supplying any supporting evidence such as delivery notes, description of goods being loaded, the premises where delivery is going and the length of time away from the vehicle. If this appeal is unsuccessful there are further chances to appeal including going to the Independent Adjudicator.

“These guidelines were followed in Mr Wharton’s cases.”