Exeter City Council opened the first all-female section of its King William Street car park to encourage women on their own to venture into the city centre at night. Within hours of the opening, a complaint was sent to the commission and the council has been told it is breaking sex discrimination laws.
The scheme is only voluntary with no sanctions against men who park in the reserved places and signs read: "Kindly leave these spaces vacant for women motorists". But the commission says that under the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act public services must be offered to men and women on an equal basis.
The 10 spaces are near to the exit, so it is quick and easy for drivers to reach their cars. It is also well lit and security cameras give women drivers more protection.
But the scheme has come in for criticism from the group it seeks to help. Some women fear it may attract potential attackers.Reuse content