VISITORS to The Open fell victim to a scam after an illegal car park sprung up to attract fans.
Conmen forced their way into Blackpool Council’s former Westgate House site - ideally placed on one of the main routes into the tournament - and opened it up for car parking yesterday morning.
The derelict Westgate road site, off Squires Gate Lane, is still owned by Blackpool Council and staff raced down when they heard about the scam at around 9.15am - but not before 20 cars had stumped up £5 to park.
Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Although I am a great fan of entrepreneurship, there is a right and a wrong way of setting up a business. This is definitely the wrong approach. We have worked with the police to deal with this issue promptly and sensibly, helping people who had parked here in good faith to be able to leave at the end of the day.
“We have now secured the barrier at Westgate House again and will increase security at the site, especially over the next few days during The Open.”
A 48-year-old man from Preston was arrested by police on suspicion of criminal damage and fraud by false representation in connection with the incident and was yesterday quizzed by officers at Blackpool police station.
The Westgate House site has been empty since the council’s staff were moved to other offices in March 2011.
There were 15 different departments based in the building including accounts, emergency planning, health and safety, ICT and licensing.