A man who was wrongly ticketed for parking in a free bay says traffic wardens’ mistakes are “killing the high street”.

Clyde Lester, who lives on Torrington Park road, parked outside McDonalds on High Road, North Finchley while he went to the NatWest bank to pay in a cheque on October 2.

He left his car in a bay that was marked ‘free for 15 minutes – no return within one hour’.

But when he got back to his vehicle minutes later, he found he had been given a ticket saying he had parked in a pay and display bay.

Mr Lester was given a £60 penalty charge notice (PCN) and had to pay a £15 administration fee on top of the fine because he leases his car.

He said: “This type of negligence is killing the high street.

“This is the local community. I have lived in Finchley for 40 years. It is just ridiculous.

“Even if you park lawfully they still come down on you. It is crazy.”

Mr Lester appealed against the parking ticket and sent photographic evidence showing he was parked in a free bay – but his appeal was turned down.

He claimed the photos on Barnet Council’s own website showed he was legally parked.

He said: “I am innocent yet out-of-pocket. I am legally parked, the Barnet warden has made an error, and the parking office have not clearly looked at their own photographic evidence.”

The council now admits Mr Lester’s appeal should have been upheld and says it is working to improve the accuracy of PCNs.

A council spokesman said: “The civil enforcement officer issued the PCN because he believed the vehicle was parked in a pay-to-park bay without having paid.

“A review of the PCN showed that the vehicle was parked in a free bay. This would appear to be a genuine oversight, which should have been picked up through the review process.

“We continuously review our processes for dealing with PCNs. We recently commenced a contract placing greater emphasis on improving the accuracy of PCNs and the investigation of any challenges made against their issue.

“The PCN has now been cancelled and a letter of apology sent to Mr Lester.”