PARKING wardens went on to a church's private car park and gave a ticket to a parish volunteer who had left her car there.

The attendants, who have previously booked delivery drivers, milk floats and even a police car, have now come under renewed criticism for their "over the top" actions and "harassment" of motorists.

A female church volunteer had parked outside Christ Church, Carr Road, Nelson, on Saturday morning to go and work in the community cafe at the church.

But when she returned to her car she found it had been given a parking ticket - even though her car was left in a private church car park outside of the warden's remit.

The ticket was later cancelled after a complaint was made, but the mistake left the volunteer very distressed, colleagues said.

And the warden's actions have led to fresh criticism of Parkwise, the controversial council-led traffic wardens scheme.

George Winkley, chairman of the Christ Church Property Committee, said: "The lady concerned, who spends a number of hours working as an unpaid volunteer at Christ Church, was naturally very distressed by the incident.

"The role of Parkwise in this instance will unfortunately reinforce the view that it is an organisation which is not interested in monitoring parking impartially and, above all, in a common sense way, but rather in maximising revenue.

"I must stress in this instance the attendants were operating on private premises and therefore completely outside their remit."

Motoring group the Association of British Drivers (ABD) said the case was the latest in a catalogue of "poor" decisions by wardens and called for a complete overhaul of the system.

A spokesman said: "This is nothing short of harassment.

"The whole idea of Parkwise is turning law enforcement into a private business and that is completely wrong.

"Incidents like this undermine confidence in the system and it needs a complete overhaul.

"We need to get back to the system where parking enforcement is the responsibility of traffic wardens under the control of the police."

Nelson councillor Mohammed Iqbal said: "This does seem to be completely over the top.

"Common sense should have prevailed and the parking warden should have checked whether the car was on private property."

Parkwise has repeatedly come under fire since council-employed wardens took over enforcement of traffic regulations from the police two years ago.

Wardens have been criticised for booking milk floats, delivery drivers, and even a police car on duty.

Most recently a warden parked on double yellow lines to book a disabled driver for parking without displaying his parking badge correctly.

The Parkwise service is run by Lancashire County Council using staff from car parking firm NCP, but local authorities act as agents for the county. Blackburn with Darwen is a unitary authority which employs its own wardens.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said they were looking into the issuing of the ticket at Christ Church but could make no further comment.