Angry holidaymakers return to find their cars abandoned in muddy fields with missing keys

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Police are investigating after ‘Meet and Greet’ parking firms at Manchester airport left passengers’ cars two miles away in boggy fields with keys missing. Some of the cars are still blocked in, leaving angry owners at a loss.

The holidaymakers had booked the parking service through an online comparison site and Manchester Airport have stressed that they are not in any way connected to the firms offering the service.

Student Megan Kelly from Rochdale booked her parking online last week and was met by a man wearing a hi-vis jacket who collected the keys to her Vauxhall Corsa and drove it away prior to her flight to Milan.

However when she returned to Manchester the following evening the number she had been given to arrange collection repeatedly went to voicemail.

She said: “I was panicking because I thought it might be gone completely.”

After reporting it stolen she rang a number on the website she booked through and was given the details of a different parking firm, who said they had not handled her booking but may know where her car was.

She went to the address she was given with a spare key to the car that night but due to it being dark, decided to return in the morning.

When she got there the police were already on site, but she was told the car couldn’t be driven away as it was blocked in by other vehicles.

Ms Kelly added: “It was a massive, muddy field. But it wasn’t the sort of place you’d expect or want your car being parked. The police had a list of about 20 registrations they were looking for of people who’d complained.”

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She added “I told them I was looking for mine and they went away and eventually came back and said they had found it but they had no idea when I’d be able to get it out.

“They said they were trying to find out what had happened to all the keys.

“They said they would contact me when they had more information and when I was able to come and collect it. I’m obviously relieved we found it and that it’s there. But I think the police are being pretty unhelpful. I just want it out.

“I’ve no idea how long it’s going to go on for. I won’t be able to drive back to university and I’ll be relying on lifts and public transport for now which is really frustrating. Someone also has my key which is pretty worrying.”

Another motorist, who did not want to be named, whose car is also trapped in a row of other vehicles, said he has been told by police they believe the issue may have arisen from a dispute between the parking firm and the landowner.

He said: “There must be three or four hundred cars there.

“It beggars belief that someone can advertise a business like this, take people’s car keys, park the cars, then just vanish. And the police tell you there’s not much they can do.

“I’m very, very angry. These people have my address, my car keys and yet I feel like I have no protection.”

A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) spokesperson said they were aware of the issue and it was being investigated, but as the location is in Cheshire the investigation was being handled by Cheshire Police, reported the Manchester Evening News.

A spokesperson for Cheshire Police said: “We are aware of an ongoing issue involving a meet and greet service that has failed to return a number of vehicles to their owners.

“The vehicles have been located in a car park in Cheshire but the owners are currently unable to access them. Officers are currently establishing exactly what has taken place and anyone who believes that they have been impacted by the incident is asked to contact Cheshire Police.”

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: “We are disappointed to hear that certain unscrupulous third-party parking operators are misleading customers in this way. These providers are in no way connected to Manchester Airport and we would always recommend customers do their research into a company before handing their keys over.

“As well as Manchester Airport’s own parking products, there are a number of reputable providers in the area.

“We will continue to support the police and our neighbouring councils’ trading standards teams in doing all we can to raise awareness and tackle this issue.”

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