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Source : 30/07/2002 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

A notorious Topps-free zone in Northampton will be fenced off to prevent motorists evading the town's army of parking attendants.

Almost a year after the Chronicle & Echo first highlighted the parking anomaly, guildhall bosses have taken the decision to place low metal barriers around the grassland next to the former Cannon Cinema,

A Chronicle & Echo reporter spotted 24 vehicles parked on the land yesterday.

Northampton Borough Council eventually admitted that it owned the land, but was powerless to enforce the town's stringent parking regulations.

Tickets can only be issued on public highways, and the council-owned land was deemed to be private and therefore exempt from the parking enforcement.

The Jesus Fellowship is also planning to put up bollards to prevent drivers gaining access to the land.

The Northamptonshire-based religious group took on the lease for the derelict cinema more than two years ago to convert the art deco building into a worship centre.

A borough council spokeswoman said: 'We have been working with the Jesus Fellowship to solve the problem of parking around the former Canon Cinema building.'

'The parking poses a problem in that if there was a need to get emergency vehicles either to the cinema or to the car park, it would be virtually impossible.'

'In regard to the parking on the grass verge, the land in question belongs to the borough of Northampton, and therefore is the responsibility of the council.'

'It does not form part of the public highway so we do not have the authority to enforce parking regulations on cars parked there.'

'Instead, we will be installing a low metal barrier around the area to prevent vehicles parking on the grass verge.'

Work has begun on the Cannon Cinema's drainage system, and John Campbell, the Jesus Fellowship's spokesman, confirmed that the lockable, removable bollards would be in place once contractors leave.

The borough council's metal barrier, which is being specially made, will be put up within the next six weeks, according to the council spokeswoman.