HUNDREDS of drivers have escaped a parking fine after town hall bosses admitted a clerical error had been made on some tickets.

Motorist Barry Moss noticed Bolton Council was putting a short code on its fixed penalty notices when it should have been using a long code.

In a Freedom of Information request, the council admitted cancelling 214 tickets and writing off 428 others because they used the short code.

The authority began using the long code on November 17 last year.

Mr Moss, aged 64, of Hindley Road, Westhoughton, called for the authority to refund every other ticket with the short code on it which could number nearly 2,800.

But the council said payers had already accepted liability.

At the centre of the matter is the council’s CCTV smart car which has been used since November, 2009, to collect evidence on lawbreaking motorists.

Tickets are issued in the form of a letter in the post rather than a notice on their windscreen.

Joe Cumbo, aged 67, got two tickets for parking on a single yellow line in Bury Road, Breightmet, last March. He paid one but, after speaking to Mr Moss, challenged the second— and the council cancelled it because of a “clerical error”.

Mr Cumbo, of Breightmet Drive, Breightmet, said: “The other ticket had the same code, so why can’t I get a refund?

It’s wrong.”

Tracey Pilkington, aged 44, of Westhoughton, also had her ticket cancelled on the same grounds after parking on double yellow lines in Market Street, Westhoughton.

Council figures show 2,786 people were ticketed from November 1, 2009, to November 5, 2010, as a result of the Smartcar evidence and, of those, motorists paid a total of £83,792.50 in fines.

A council spokesman said: “An adjudicator in a particular case took a view that the detail about the parking contravention on the parking contravention notice could have been clearer.

“Software has since been amended to include further detail of the contravention that occurred to be as clear as possible.

“We chose to cancel these two unpaid tickets, as although they were enforceable, we accepted the view that the parking contravention could have been clearer.

“However, if a customer has paid the fine, then they have accepted that they have parked where they should not have done.”