THE owners of a historic East Lancashire hotel are to introduce an ‘eye in the sky’ parking system to improve security and stop passing motorists abusing it car park.

The Dunkenhalgh Hotel on Blackburn Road in Clayton-le-Moors has sometimes found guests and users of its spa unable to park.

Now it has applied for planning permission from Hyndburn Council to instal an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system with cameras on poles provided by Parking Eye to end the problem.

It will allow passers-by to pay for staying by the hour but will warn and fine those who misuse the 195-space car park at the Grade II-listed hotel, mainly constructed in the 19th Century as a seat of the Petre family but incorporating a house built by JudgeThomas Walmsley in 1600.

Dunkenhalgh general manager Ivan Lynch said the 175-room hotel was often used as a meeting place for motorists coming off the M65s junction and leaving vehicles before travelling on in a single car.

He said the use of ANPR in car parks was a policy of the 71-year-old leisure complex’s new owners Amaris.

Mr Lynch said: “The new system will have plenty of signs and warn people they will be charged. There will be a touch screen system for guests and spa users to be exempt from paying.

“We have had a problem with people coming off the nearby motorway junction meeting here and parking up so our customers cannot find spaces.

“This will tackle that and improve security. We have had a little low-level crime and a couple of cars stolen from the car park in the last nine months,”

A statement with the planning application says: “There is currently no system on site managing the car park. This lack of system is open to misuse due to motorists abusing the car park.

“This means that spaces are not always available for people using the hotel The majority of the equipment is to be installed on new columns, the impact on the building's character will be limited.”

Clayton-le-Moors ward councillor Melissa Fisher said: “The Dunkenhalgh is such an asset to Clayton and it has every right to protect its business.

“If it is having problems with it car park being abused, this seems sensible.”