A DISABLED car park attendant has lost his battle with church bosses to keep his business open.
Mark Pickering, who operated Park With Mark at Blackburn’s Wesley Hall Methodist Church since 1994, locked up for the last time yesterday after his rent more than doubled.
Mr Pickering, of Hambledon View, Read, did not miss a day of work for 20 years and thanked his loyal customers for their support.
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The 38-year-old, who has learning disabilities after suffering from hydrocephalus as a youngster, said he could not continue to manage the Feilden Street venue after his rent rocketed from £3,600 per year to £7,800.
He and his mother, Sylvia, held talks with Methodist leaders in a last-ditch attempt to save the car park but failed to come to an agreement.
Mrs Pickering, 73, said: “Mark is going to have to finish. We had a meeting last Thursday but they just wanted us out.
“He just couldn’t afford the jump that they wanted. They offered him fewer spaces but that would have been impossible to make ends meet as well.
“The new minister at the church seemed very nice about it but I think the decision had already been made. We’d like to thank everyone who supported Mark.
“I know a few of his customers had tears in their eyes but there’s nothing else we can do.”
The church said it was seeking to increase income from the car park in order to improve its ARC Together in Hope programme, which gives English lessons and advice to refugees arriving in Blackburn.
Spokeswoman Anna Drew said: “We have worked very hard to try to find a solution that would be fair and reasonable for both Mark and Wesley Hall.
“In addition to extending the notice to quit the property by a month, the church has offered Mark two alternative rental options.
“The first of these was a graded increase over three years.
“The second was a reduced increase in rent in return for Mark using fewer spaces in the car park.
“Mark has declined both of these and we are sad that we’ve not been able to reach an agreement. We wish Mark well as he seeks other forms of income.”