NEWQUAY Town Council has been left with "egg on its face" after confronting a car parking firm over unfair fines, only to be shown they were all legitimate.
The clerk sent a letter to Parking Eye, which manages Fistral beach car park, after receiving half a dozen complaints from irate motorists.
The Cornish Guardian has also received numerous calls from people who had been caught out by the number plate scanner, which monitors exactly how long a car has been parked.
But in a response to the council, client services director, Mark Anfield, defended the company's policy, providing evidence that five of the six motorists had clearly flouted the regulations. There was no record of the sixth complaint on the system.
Mr Anfield said there were 24 signs posted around the car park which made clear the pay and display tariffs and conditions.
They also state that if anyone overstays, they can always purchase extra time before leaving the car park to avoid a fine.
Citing the individual cases, Mr Anfield said the first motorist had overstayed by 34 minutes, and another stayed for more than two hours without paying for any parking.
In two other cases, motorists overstayed the one hour free winter parking condition – with one parking for two and a half hours.
Mr Anfield said: "We have reviewed each of these cases and feel that we have treated these motorists fairly. It would be unfair to the vast majority of motorists who abide by the parking conditions, if we were to allow a small minority to park for free.
"If we were to take such an approach the car park would quickly become clogged with people who stayed all day without paying. This would be to the detriment of the majority of motorists, who would find they could not park to use the beach."
He said the policy mirrored that of Cornwall Council and Parking Eye complies with the British Parking Association's code of practice at all times.
At a meeting of Newquay Town Council on Wednesday, Councillor Andy Hannan warned against wading into fights without knowing the facts.
He said: "As far as I can see all the people who were fined by Parking Eye were flouting the regulations. We have to be careful in future that when we jump to their defence and can't substantiate what the public is saying, we can end up looking a bit hasty."
Colleague Norman Thompson added: "We could end up with egg on our faces again."