A CLEANER whose car was parked just four feet from the public toilets in which he was working was handed a parking ticket in Falmouth last week.

Geoffrey Norman was outraged to discover that he had received the £100 fine from security firm Armtrac, despite displaying a sign in his car on Prince of Wales Pier, which explained his whereabouts.

"They are a law unto themselves. I was parked four feet away from the door. All they'd have needed to do is shout to me and I would've answered them. Instead, they'd rather sit and wait in their car for 15 minutes and then give me a ticket. It's absolutely ridiculous."

The 66 year-old has cleaned public toilets in the area for 17 years, the last eight of which he has used his own car after budget cuts.

"I was given a sign to display in my car, but apparently that is now out of date and I now need another permit. So while I accept that I did not have the correct sign in the car, it is just a money-making exercise to them.

"If I was trying to pull the wool over their eyes, I'd hardly tell them I was working in a public toilet would I?

"They slap a ticket on cars and if people appeal it, they probably just let them off. I have appealed against the ticket, but there's no third party involved to make the decision. It's just wide open to corruption.

"Cornwall Council has told me that it will reimburse me if I have to pay the ticket, but that's just even more money that the company gets at the tax payer's expense."

Falmouth Town Council's grounds and facilities manager Simon Penna, for whom Mr Norman works, has appealed against the ticket on his behalf.

Mr Norman, from Illogan, claimed that in a separate incident, a man put a sign in his car after it had broken down in the middle of Falmouth - only to also pick up a ticket.

"Is the person handing out tickets really behaving responsibly? How do we go about stopping them, because they'll do the same again?"

Armtrac was contacted for a comment.

At first the Packet was told that the manager - "Operator 16" - would be available for a reply 15 minutes later.

When the Packet rang back, "Operator 16" had informed the telephonist that they needed to receive an email from the Packet and also one from Mr Norman, giving his authority for us to discuss the matter on his behalf.

At the time of going to press - 24 hours after the respective emails had been sent - Armtrac had not responded to either the Packet or Mr Norman.

A general statement on their website reads: "Armtrac are committed to ensuring the codes of practice set by the IPC and DVLA are followed at all times. We will carry out car park management services on private land to deter illegal or unauthorised parking. This will be conducted in a responsible, effective and efficient manner, by achieving this, we can also provide the following:

* Offer peace of mind to all users of the site;

* Reduction in site congestion;

* Elimination of unauthorized parking on roads and car parks."