A LOYAL customer of a popular South Marston cafe vowed to never return after receiving £200 in fines because of its new parking system.

As reported in the Adver last week, the Spitfire Cafe suffered a large drop in sales after the introduction of a new scheme that slaps drivers with £100 fines if they don’t validate their licence plates within 10 minutes of arrival.

Regular visitor Kim Mills from Highworth said: “I’ve visited the cafe once or twice a week for years to have breakfast on Wednesday and Friday mornings, but I haven’t been there since I was fined and I won’t go back there again.

“I have sympathy for the owner Lesley because this wasn’t her fault and the parking scheme wasn’t her decision, it’s sad, but I can see why this has put people off.

“Back in May, before the signs for this scheme went up, on two different days I forgot to write my name and details down on the pad and nobody prompted me, so I received two fines and appealed them but both appeals got rejected.

“The letter told me to go to the ombudsman so I contacted them but haven’t heard back.

“Then Lesley said the building manager was getting wrongly-issued fines cancelled, but he couldn’t cancel mine because I’d already gone higher up.

“If the manager can just cancel the fines, why were my appeals rejected? It’s quite upsetting and I don’t know if this will ever get sorted out.”

Customers now use an iPad by the till to enter their details but in the first few weeks of the system being rolled out, staff relied on a pencil and notepad to take down reg numbers which led to errors and mistakes that cost its owner hundreds of pounds in daily takings.

But things may be looking up after the Adver highlighted owner Lesley Allcorn’s plight on the front page of our Saturday edition.

She said: “We’ve had some positive feedback and seen a whole lot of customers come in that haven’t been here for a while so it’s really good to see them show their solidarity.

“If things pick up a bit, we will be able to carry on but it’s still too early to tell yet.

“ I’m just taking each day as it comes and keeping my fingers and toes crossed.”

The Adver spoke to the manager of Berkeley House, of which the cafe is part, to discover the reason for the implementation of the new parking system and was then told to contact owners SN3 Investments. But the firm declined to comment when it was approached.