Father Christmas given parking ticket at shopping centre

Father Christmas Image copyright Sam Wise
Image caption Santa claimed it was a genuine mistake but the shopping centre said it was unfortunate

Well-wishers have rallied around Santa after he was given a ticket for parking in the wrong space.

Father Christmas said he was "stunned" to receive the notice for wrongly parking in a parent and child space at Thornaby's Pavilion Shopping Centre.

He told BBC Tees: "Santa Claus gets a parking ticket? It's unheard of."

People on Facebook called for the attendant to get a lump of coal for Christmas, but the centre defended the ticket saying it was "unfortunate".

Sam Wise, who photographed the incident, said Santa was "fuming" when he returned to discover he had been fined on Tuesday morning.

Santa said: "I parked at Thornaby to do a few little jobs as I'm busy this time of year, and I parked at the parent and toddler bay and put my disabled blue badge in the window.

"I came back about half an hour later and they had put a ticket on my car.

"I was in my silver sleigh, and I was stunned."

Leslie Harrison wrote on the Facebook group Thornaby Alert that the centre was taking the rules "far too seriously", while Linsey Catchpole added "you can't fine Santa".

But shopping centre manager Oliver Westley said: "Unfortunately, Santa parked his sleigh in the wrong bay."

Responding to accusations on social media that the parking attendant had "no Christmas spirit", he added: "He has plenty. Santa wasn't at the car when the ticket was issued."

Father Christmas said he would appeal against the ticket, but confirmed the incident would not affect deliveries on 24 December, saying: "No it hasn't ruined Christmas. Ho ho ho."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Santa's proper sleigh is believed to have been undergoing maintenance ahead of the big day

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