CLACTON'S MP has joined a cross-party group of politicians in calling for a parking company to end its heavy-handed practices against residents.

Giles Watling is one of 14 Members of Parliament to sign a letter to the British Parking Association asking the operator to investigate Smart Parking UK.

During a debate in Parliament in February, Mr Watling raised concerns over fines which were handed out by the company at the Ravensdale car park, off North Road in Great Clacton.

Motorists were left outraged after being fined £60 by Smart Parking, which operated the site, even though it was advertised as free parking for three hours.

Small print stated a registration number must be entered to validate the free parking, which was branded as misleading by users.

At the time, Mr Watling called the system an "outrageous scam.”

Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe, who wrote the letter which has been signed by the other MPs, said: "Since my question in the House of Commons Chamber, I have been struck by the number of colleagues who share my frustration with Smart Parking UK.

"It appears that their opaque practices and inflexible attitude are causing unnecessary blight to communities across the UK."

Mr Metcalfe's said he hopes the letter will lead to an examination of Smart Parking's practices and said it could lead to them being struck from the BPA's association register.

A group of around 200 campaigners held a demonstration outside Smart Parking UK operated Westgate Shopping Centre car park in Basildon on Saturday.

Mr Metcalfe said he has been invited to meet with Smart Parking UK bosses in the coming weeks.