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Source : 18/08/2001 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Motorists wishing to park in one of the few spaces which escapes the beady eye of the TOPPs team could be paying a religious sect for the privilege. (Note: TOPPs is Northampton councils new 'Transfer of Parking Powers' initiative)

After weeks of investigation, Northampton Borough Council has finally found that the popular parking pitch nestled under trees in Lower Mounts belongs to the Jesus Fellowship.

For several weeks cars have parked on the scrap of grass opposite BBC Radio Northampton and evaded detection from the army of vigilant parking wardens.

But the borough council said it did not control the land so it did not come under the TOPPs jurisdiction.

The Christian group, which is based in Bugbrooke, has bought the former Cannon cinema nearby and plans to turn it into a drop in centre.

A council spokesman said: 'The Jesus Fellowship now holds a ground lease from the borough council and effectively is in control of the access road.'

'We have this week written to the Jesus Fellowship asking for their assistance in resolving the issue'

John Campbell, spokesman for the religious group, said: 'If we own the land then it's news to us, especially considering we asked to rent it from the council and were told it forms part of their development plans for that strip of land up to St Michael's Road.'

'I haven't heard from the council yet but I'm sure there are lots of things we could do with the land if it is ours.'

Mr Campbell did not dismiss a suggestion to erect a barrier and charge drivers to park on the land, but he added: 'I could see us using it as a nice outside area.'