Shoppers will be offered two hours free parking in St Neots throughout October by way of an apology for a technical fault which led to hundreds of people wrongly receiving fines.

Britannia Parking, which operates the car park at the back of the Beales Department store, admitted that a technical fault with a new number plate recognition system led to the error.

Beales has today (Wednesday) clarified the position and said all parking notices issued between September 2 and 16 have been cancelled. All customers who received a fine should now have received a letter notifying them of this and the money should also have been refunded.

A Beales spokesman also confirmed that all customers are being offered two hours free parking during the month of October.

Beales was forced to "apologise unreservedly" after hundreds of people were issued with parking fines and took to social media to complain. In an effort to appease shoppers, some of whom had received multiple penalty notices for hundreds of pounds, the company's chief executive officer, Tony Brown, told The Hunts Post: "I guarantee that no-one will be out of pocket as a result of this technical error".

St Neots town councillor Barry Chapman said he had received complaints from people, some of whom had received four penalty notices in one day, and others who were certain they had paid correctly, but had not retained their ticket.

Asked if he felt Brittainia had gone far enough to resolve the situation, he said: "I am very surprised that it has been limited to September 2-16 as I've had residents complaining about unfair parking notices for some time before September 2 and would like Britannia to review all of the parking notices it has issued in St Neots."

A spokesman for Britannia said: "We recently experienced a technical system error which resulted in some parking charge notices (PCN) being incorrectly issued.

"We apologise for any inconvenience or upset caused. Those customers affected during this period have had their PCNs cancelled. Those who have already paid a PCN issued in this period will have their charge refunded through our central system. The issue with the car park's system has now been resolved and it is operating correctly."