A DRIVER has been locked in a battle with a car parking company after being sent a penalty notice for a time when he claims his car was not there.

Garry Mahon refused to pay the £85 parking charge incurred at Forster Square Retail Park which he said was issued in error on February 5.

The company which issued the ticket, ParkingEye car park management, has insisted Mr Mahon was in the car park during the times stated, but said it had now cancelled the charge due to "extenuating circumstances".

Mr Mahon, of Sandholme Drive, Thorpe Edge, said he was dropping his 16 year-old daughter off at work at the retail park when his Citroen Xsara Picasso was caught on camera entering the car park at 4.58pm.

He said he then left the car park two minutes later, returning shortly after 9pm to pick his daughter up.

He was then again caught on camera leaving the car park at 9.20pm, and received a ticket saying he had spent four hours and 21 minutes there, longer than the three-hour limit.

Mr Mahon, who works at a petrol station in Wyke, said he had no idea why the cameras had not filmed him leaving and re-entering the car park while his daughter was at work.

"The car park was virtually empty at 9pm, so I can't understand why the cameras didn't pick me up coming back in," he said.

"The cameras have either malfunctioned or they have selected the pictures they want to use."

Mr Mahon said in trying to contact ParkingEye, he had spoken to the deputy centre manager at Forster Square, Vanessa Lewis, who spoke to the company on his behalf.

He said he was told the matter would be dropped "as a gesture of good will" before he then received the reminder notice.

"Saying they would drop it as a gesture of good will is very patronising to say the least, it's as though they're the ones doing me a favour," Mr Mahon said.

"If they had admitted a mistake or a malfunction with the cameras and apologised, that would have been another thing.

"I am furious about it, as I have done nothing wrong.

"I even rang Asda to try to get a number for the company, and a member of staff there told me this had happened five times to him.

"I have to use the car park at least twice a week, and I'm not confident this won't happen again."

Mrs Lewis confirmed she had spoken to Mr Mahon to inform him the ticket had been cancelled, telling him to ignore the reminder letter as ParkingEye had said the matter had been dealt with.

A spokesman for ParkingEye, which is based in Chorley in Lancashire, said: "Car park users enter into a contract to pay the appropriate amount for the duration of their visit or to not exceed free parking limits.

"The motorist was parked in the car park for four hours and 21 minutes, and was therefore issued with a charge.

“We operate an audited appeals process which we encourage motorists to use.

"In this case, due to extenuating circumstances, the charge has been cancelled."

The company would not explain what the "extenuating circumstances" were when questioned by the Telegraph & Argus.