Manchester Airport parking: warning over rogue firms dumping passenger cars on residential streets

The airport has also cut the cost of its waiting area for taxis and private hire vehicles to encourage them not to wait on residential streets near the airport.

Problems involving parking at Manchester Airport have hit the headlines in recent weeks, and now the travel hub and its partners have sought to once again reassure residents that the issue is being tackled.

Cheshire Police launched an operation in June after reports of people experiencing problems when leaving their vehicles to go on holiday, including one person who returned to find their car had been driven 3,000 miles while they were on a two-month break.

The airport has now reminded customers of accredited schemes which ensure parking operators meet a set of standards and urged them to use these before booking with a facility to leave their car.

The travel hub has also cut the cost of its waiting area for taxis and private hire vehicles to encourage them not to wait on residential streets near the airport.

A number of flights are facing delays today. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

What are the problems with parking at the airport?

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There have been numerous issues involving cars being parked while their owners are on holiday around Manchester Airport this year.

Rogue firms have been causing problems for residents in the Wythenshawe area by leaving vehicles on residential streets having claimed they would be securely stored.

One traveller also got back from a long break to find thousands of miles had been put on the clock of their vehicle, while another had the bonnet of their car stolen.

Police were also called in April after 150 people flew back into the airport only to find their car keys were missing and the vehicles were in a boggy field in Styal.

In response Cheshire Police launched Operation Cicero in mid-June to crack down on parking and meet-and-greet firms that were not playing by the rules.

Businesses were told by officers that wrongdoing would not be tolerated while arrests were also made at one site after cannabis was found.

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At the time of the operation Inspector Andrew Baker from Cheshire Police said: “While many of these businesses are not illegal, some of the activity taking part on their sites is and some the services they are providing are questionable.”

What advice is now being given to travellers?

The airport and its partners at Cheshire Police and Manchester City Council are now urging travellers to carry out due diligence on firms offering parking near the travel hub before they commit to booking and handing over their keys.

They are urging people to use either Park Mark or Buy With Confidence.

Park Mark is a police crime prevention Initiative designed to tackle crime in parking facilities, with over 5,000 accredited car parks in the UK, while Buy With Confidence is a government scheme listing providers which have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way.

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Inspector Baker said: “When booking airport car parks people often go for the cheapest option – but sometimes this isn’t the best choice.

“We have received a number of complaints from residents in relation to rogue parking companies which are operating near Manchester Airport. These companies claim to be secure car parks which are affiliated to the airport. In reality, the vehicles are often stored in insecure muddy fields.

“As a result, we have had reports of vehicles being damaged or even having parts stolen. In other cases, we’ve been contacted by people who’ve returned home to find their vehicles have been driven thousands of miles while they’ve been on holiday.

Cheshire Police carried out an operation in mid-June to check operators offering car parking near Manchester Airport. Photo: Cheshire Police

“While we are committed to working closely with our partners to tackle these issues, it’s essential that holiday makers play their part.

“I would urge anyone who is going on holiday and looking to book a parking slot, to do their research, choose a reputable company and always book through an official website and don’t just go for the cheapest option. Otherwise your car may be touring the UK while you are travelling the world.”

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Coun Leigh-Ann Igbon, executive member for vibrant neighbourhoods at Manchester City Council, said: “The airport is one of the pillars of the region’s economy and it is positive to see its recovery following Covid-19. But for some local residents the impact of inconsiderate parking has been significant. I’m glad to see that Manchester Airports Group are putting in place measures to alleviate this during one of the busiest periods of the year.

“As ever the council would recommend anyone leaving their car at the airport when they fly to use reputable businesses and not fall prey to rogue operators. The Buy with Confidence Scheme is the best and easiest way to ensure your car is safe when on holiday.”

Chris Woodroofe, managing director at Manchester Airport, added: “We continue to take the issue of rogue meet and greet firms very seriously. In addition to our own official parking, there are a number of reliable and reputable third-party providers located near the airport and we would always urge passengers to do their research before handing over their keys.

“We encourage customers to use initiatives such as Park Mark and the government-backed Buy with Confidence scheme to find a provider that has undergone a series of detailed checks and is committed to trading fairly.”

Police and the local authority have also said they are ready to tackle any unscrupulous activity during the school holidays, which is the busiest period of the year for the airport and is expected to see the most customers passing through since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

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What has the airport done for taxis and private hire vehicles?

The airport says it is also taking action to combat congestion caused by caused by the increased number of taxis and private hire vehicles travelling to and from it at the height of the summer season.

The travel hub operates a dedicated waiting area for drivers to use in between jobs, so that there is no need for vehicles to wait in neighbouring residential streets.

In response to increasing passenger numbers the cost of this waiting area has been cut in half during the school summer break, meaning taxi drivers can wait for up to three hours with a £1 contribution to the facility’s upkeep.

Private hire firms are being contacted directly by the airport with details. The airport says it will consider renewing the scheme over subsequent busy periods if it proves successful.

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Mr Woodroofe said: “We understand that for taxi drivers, particularly those based some distance from the airport, it makes financial sense to wait in the area for a return fare rather than to make the return journey without a passenger.

“However, when a high number of private hire vehicles wait in neighbouring residential areas, it can create congestion and increase the risk of inconsiderate or illegal parking.

“That is why we have introduced this scheme for the summer holiday period, which we expect will alleviate pressure on street parking capacity in areas such as Wythenshawe and Woodhouse Park, by providing an affordable alternative for commercial drivers who need to remain in the area for extended periods.”