A food bank volunteer in Kingsbridge says she’s at her wits’ end after battling with Devon County Council for almost a year to have a parking ticket rescinded.

Operations manager Gerrie Messer, who runs the food bank with two volunteers, was delivering much needed food parcels last July when she parked her car in a loading bay area, leaving an ‘emergency response’ sign on her windscreen.

“It says what we’re doing and there’s a contact number to let anyone know they can call me if I’m causing an obstruction,” she said.

But when she returned just over 10 minutes later, she was shocked to discover she had been given a £70 Penalty Charge Notice.

“On this occasion they didn’t even wait for me to come back. I’ve challenged dozens of fines before and they’ve always rescinded the tickets,” she said.

Ms Messer lodged an informal challenge within days, but it was rejected on the grounds that only vehicles loading and unloading bulky goods should park in the bay area.

She was offered a discounted sum of £35 as full payment if she agreed to pay within 14 days, but Ms Messer rejected it.

“The food bank would ultimately have to pay, and I’m not using fundraised money to feed people to pay a parking fine that DCC shouldn’t have issued,” she said.

Despite pleading her case with officials, the bailiffs issued a notice of enforcement, informing her that the amount has now increased to a whopping £424, due to be paid this week.

The food bank supplies food parcels to more than 460 people in the Kingsbridge area and also works closely with schools and children with safeguarding issues, as well as elderly people recently discharged from hospital.

DCC said the council’s policy was “clear” on loading.

“If no loading is observed, then a PCN will be issued,” a spokesman said.

Marc Gardner, from Consumer Action Group, however said it was within DCC’s power to find a satisfactory solution.

“She’s not in a great situation at all, but the council can call off the bailiffs whenever they want,” he said, adding that the council was “profiting out of charitable donations”.