A private car parking company did not need planning permission to install a camera that automatically detects motorists’ number plates, the council said in a U-turn.
The authority previously accused Care Parking of putting the camera up at the Festival Leisure site, off Rigby Road, without the right paperwork.
“Planning permission is required for cameras that have been mounted on free-standing poles,” it said, prior to an investigation.
But in a backtrack, a spokeswoman said planning enforcement officers had since “advised the company does not require permission for the camera”, and told motorists sent charges to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau if they want to appeal.
Those who stay on the car park, which serves the Odeon cinema, Swift Hound pub, Frankie and Benny’s Italian-American restaurant, Bannatyne gym, and McDonalds, for longer than three hours face being charged £100.
That is reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days, though registrations details can be entered inside the businesses for extra time.
The new restrictions angered many customers, who said they did not spot new signs – and also claimed they were not warned by staff when visiting the cinema.
Odeon said its workers were “notifying guests and making them aware” of the new limit, and offering a two-hour extension.
David Slattery-Christy, of Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, said he and three others – who took 12 pensioners to see a live theatre screening – were sent invoices for a total of £400.
He said: “I can honestly say I saw no obvious, visible signs warning of a parking limit of three hours, especially not in the dark and in the disabled spaces. I saw no sign in the Odeon cinema either, and as the program lasted three hours ... staff should have warned us on this fact... We have all appealed this ridiculous and unfair fine.”
Care Parking previously said comments that a lack of planning permission rendered charges “null and void” were equal to “misinformation” and were “potentially detrimental to motorists”.
It said the new rules were brought in after “substantial misuse” of the site by “non-patrons”, including match-goers at the nearby Bloomfield Road football stadium.
“Whilst some individuals may not appreciate the requirement for an overstay system to be installed, we have already seen a substantial reduction in car park misuse,” it added in a statement.