COFFEE lovers using a Costa drive-through in York are being hit with parking penalties - from the camera system at the car park next door.

A CCTV security system at the car park next to the Costa branch in Layerthorpe - which is used by customers at the neighbouring Travelodge - is believed to be snapping people using the coffee drive-through in error.

Helen Appleby, 53, says she received a £100 penalty after the cameras mistakenly captured her entering the drive-through on Christmas Eve and leaving the drive-through on New Year’s Eve, despite visiting the cafe several times in between.

The camera is run by parking management company APCOA, which says that where a “technical problem” occurs, it will cancel a parking charge notice. Travelodge doesn’t own or run the car park, although its guests park there.

Mrs Appleby, from Market Weighton, travels into York to work at York Hospital every day.

She said: “I go to Costa most mornings to get a coffee on the way to work.

“I got the penalty letter through the post saying that I had been staying at the Travelodge hotel for a week without paying.

“The camera is capturing drivers as they enter the drive-through as though they are hotel customers using the car park but not when they leave the Costa car park. So, when I next go back through and drive out it thinks I have been there all the time.

“I understand this is a mistake but if you are not from the area you may just take the penalty and pay it.

“I have got 28 days to pay the fee which means ringing the company to try to get a rebate.

“People who are working fulltime do not have time to seek refunds from the company. It has put me off going back to the Costa at Layerthorpe.”

Billy Morfitt, 22, from York, a CCTV and security installer for FRS York, said he received a letter last week for a penalty of £60 for allegedly leaving his car at the car park between December 17 and 18.

He said: “I went to Costa drive-through on December 17 and 18, after I dropped my girlfriend at work. However, on the letter I received from APCOA last week, they said that I arrived on the 17th and left on the 18th. But, the photo they sent is of a different car leaving the car park on December 18.

“Consequently, I have received a £60 penalty that will rise to £100 if I don’t pay it. The camera is for the Travelodge hotel, not Costa, but due to this fiasco we don’t even go to Costa anymore on a morning because it isn’t worth the hassle.”

A spokesman for Costa said: “We understand how frustrating this must be for our customers. The car park is operated by a private parking company and unfortunately we have no control over any action they have taken. We have been in touch to make them aware of the issue and we’re hoping for a swift resolution.”

In a statement, Travelodge said it did not own or run the car park.

An APCOA spokesperson said: “APCOA operate a fair and proportionate appeals process for parking charge notices in accordance with our membership of the British Parking Association. Where a technical problem occurs, APCOA will cancel a parking charge notice.

“We do not comment on ongoing cases, but will take the necessary steps to ensure a proportionate approach is taken.”