Source : 21/06/2002 Northampton Chronicle and Echo
A notorious Topps-free zone in Northampton could become a no-go area as a religious group launches war on motorists.
The grass verge next to the former Cannon Cinema has become a popular haunt for drivers dumping their cars to avoid the army of parking attendants patrolling the streets of Northampton.
The Chronicle and Echo revealed last month that after 12 months of speculation, Northampton Borough Council had admitted that it could not enforce its parking powers on cars which had been left on the patch of grass.
But elders from the Jesus Army have now stepped into the melee, and revealed the area will be sealed off within the next few weeks to prevent motorists taking advantage of a free parking spot.
The Nether Heyford-based religious organisation is drawing up its final plans to convert the nearby derelict art deco cinema into a worship centre. The proposals will include blocking off the grass area.
This week, a Chron reporter spotted 21 cars parked up on the verge as drivers continue to dodge the attentions of the town's parking attendants.
John Campbell, spokesman for the Jesus Army, said: 'Very shortly we will be starting some under-pinning work to repair the structures of the cinema and the shops next to it.'
'We will be sealing off the access road (next to the cinema) to allow contractors on the site.'
'At the same time, we anticipate bollards being put up along the grass verge.'
The verge emerged as an anomaly in the town centre after the borough council took over responsibility of parking enforcement in Northampton from the police two years ago.
Inquiries to the Guildhall by the Chron had drawn a blank until a borough council spokeswoman confirmed four weeks ago that drivers who parked their vehicles on the grass could not be fined.
Parking tickets can only be issued on public highways and not private land.
The borough council-owned patch of land was deemed to be private land, meaning parking attendants were powerless to act on drivers who had left their cars there.