Maidenhead father angry over baby registration in Slough

Maidenhead father expresses anger over baby registration in Slough

James Sweeney with wife Vicki and their newborn baby

A new Maidenhead father has hit out at a registry office for the way they have handled the official registering of his baby in Slough.

James Sweeney and his wife gave birth to their first-born on April 20 at Wexham Park but the pair have been told they are not allowed to register the baby together at Slough Registry Office due to social distancing.

Mr Sweeney told the Advertiser that he is unsure how he is able to ‘sit with five of my friends in a bar’, but he cannot sign the official document with his wife, who lives in the same household.

He said: “It makes me quite angry. We spent two years trying to conceive. We were one day away from starting our IVF journey when we found we'd conceived naturally, so having us both present at the registration is a significant moment.

“I have tried to appeal to their common sense and have offered to do lateral flow tests and show proof of vaccination, but it seems common sense isn't all that common after all.”

Mr Sweeney, who works for the NHS, added that the procedure is ‘unfair’ on parents wishing to register their babies together, and questioned why the office – run by Slough Borough Council – has sent the pair a letter warning of prosecution due to them not yet registering their child.

“Nationally, the Government have suspended the 42-day mandatory deadline to register babies,” Mr Sweeney said. “However, we've received a letter from the [Slough] superintendent to say we're facing prosecution for not registering our baby.

“I think it's preposterous that they can potentially have two people from two different households, if they're unmarried, in the same room, but won't allow two people from the same household.

“I'm allowed to mix with a couple of hundred people in a pub, or watch football with 40,000 people, but my wife and I can't register our own child together.

“Slough have said I can wait outside until my wife has signed the certificate and, once she's left, I can go in and look at it. It makes absolutely no sense.

“Even with restrictions lifting, [the superintendent] has said their restrictions will not ease because she's had a member of staff go off sick with COVID.”

A spokeswoman for Slough Borough Council said: “Our registrars are registering on average 18 babies a day and are following standard procedures.

“With married couples, legally only one of them needs to sign the registration certificate. For unmarried couples, it needs both signatures.

“When unmarried couples attend, they go into the office one at a time to fill in their details and sign.

“The letter we sent out after not registering the birth within 42 days is standard practice. This deadline has not been suspended nationally.

“We understand the couple has been through a lot, and we sympathise, however, we are open and there is no obstacle to them registering the birth as legally required.

“We would welcome this couple into the office as soon as possible, while following the set procedures we currently have in place.”

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