'It's sheer vandalism': Cars painted and tyres slashed as Stansted Airport parking row erupts

ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer reports on the parking row that has led to the police getting involved

Furious parking vigilantes have taken the law into their own hands by painting yellow lines over cars they believe were parked by holidaymakers in their village.

Essex Police had to be called to Takeley, just south of Stansted Airport in Essex, after eight vehicles were vandalised on the main street running through the village on 6 September.

At least six of the cars had been covered in yellow paint, while some had also had their tyres slashed.

The revenge attacks were carried out under the cover of darkness, with notes stuck on car windows stating: "This vehicle has been targeted for action by the Takeley Anti-Airport Parkers Group.”

These notes were left on windscreens. Credit: East News

Residents have become frustrated in recent years that some motorists have been leaving their cars in the village, instead of paying for parking at the airport.

One angry car owner recently returned from holiday to find two of his tyres had been destroyed.

Ian Turner, 58, from Peterborough, had just flown back from France and was devastated to find that his family saloon car had been targeted.

”It’s sheer vandalism. My car was perfectly legally parked and in no-one’s way – there were no white lines or restrictions," he said.

"There was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t have left my car there. The paintwork has been so damaged that the whole car needs a respray – and it may not be worth it so it will be a write-off.”

The cars were parked on the main road running through Takeley. Credit: East News

Another car - a £55,000 black Audi Q4 – had all four tyres punctured. 

It is estimated that it will cost around £1,200 to replace them, while a complete respray of the bodywork could set the driver back another £15,000 on top of that.

But with some airport fees costing up to £140 a week, many passengers are still determined to avoid the official parking sites.

"It’s ridiculous – I buy air tickets to get me across Europe for a tenner but have to pay £20 a day to leave my car at the airport," one traveller at the airport said.

"Of course I am going to find a cheaper alternative – parking legally in a village nearby and getting the bus to the airport is simple – and a lot cheaper.”

This Audi was among the cars targeted. Credit: East News

Essex Police is now investigating the attacks and officers left official notes under the wipers of vandalised cars, saying: “Hello, we are aware of the damage to your vehicle. Please call us on 101 quoting the incident number."

However, local councillors are calling for long-term solutions to help defuse the row for good.

”We have been asking for yellow no-parking lines for more than a year. There are currently very few parking restrictions and people using Stansted are taking advantage of that," said Takeley council clerk Jackie Deane.

“They just leave their cars here for a week or longer and get a cab or bus to the airport. But these cars are a real hazard and we urgently need parking restrictions. Residents' permits may be one way to solve the issue.

“Part of the problem is the off-site parking firms who set up and offer to collect your car, store it safely while you are away and then deliver it back to the airport.

"But they are not fussy where they leave them – and places like Takeley, just five minutes away, has become a dumping ground for these vehicles."

The damage could cost drivers thousands of pounds to repair. Credit: East News

A spokesman for the airport said that staff had worked "extremely closely" with local councils to combat the dumping of cars by illegal parking firms in surrounding villages.

"There is a claim that the cars have been parked there by an illegal meet and greet car park operator so the owners would have paid a fee but not for a secure, official on-site car park," he said.

"The airport has worked extremely closely with the local district council authorities, parish councils, the Stansted Area Transport Forum and the airport consultative committee for many years on issues relating to potential fly parking-vehicle related issues in the local area.” 

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