A FLEDGLING firm offering valet parking for Southend Airport passengers says it is determined to succeed, despite attempts to squeeze it out of the market.

Southend Airport Car Park, which only got off the ground in April, predicts it will create 25 jobs for local people by next summer and continue to grow.

However the firm’s bosses believe they have been forced to manouevre around attempts by the airport’s management to establish a monopoly in the parking trade.

Lorraine Larman, the company’s financial director, said: “We don’t believe in monopolies and want to offer the customer cheap airport parking, along with their cheap flights, to make their holiday experience affordable overall.

“Despite the competition, we are doing well, and that is largely because of the level of service we offer to people.

“Most of our customers are repeat customers because they like what we do. We have people coming from as far away as Norfolk and Suffolk.”

Southend Airport has its own long-stay car park, priced at £10 a day.

SACP offers £33 for one week or £65 for two weeks, and also offers the “cheapest” deals available for its “meet and greet” service.

The company, which originally operated from a base in Progress Road, Southend, moved to a former development site off Coopers Way, on the Temple Farm industrial estate, Southend, in June to cope with the growing demand.

Ms Larman, who runs the firm with her son, Louis Larman, and son-in-law Michael Ransom, said she had no experience in the car parking trade when she set up the business.

The company is now a member of the British Parking Association and will be assessed for a Park Mark award - a measurement of a parking business’s services - on December 11.

She said: “We just saw an opportunity, and Louis and Michael have worked their socks off to make it a success.

“Now we’d really like to grow and expand.

“To me, it seems that businesses such as ours are the ones that should be encouraged to grow, especially in the current climate.”

Alastair Welch, the managing director of Southend Airport, pointed out it was the only airport in the London region to offer a free parking period for the “convenience” of passengers.

He added: “Our car parking prices are still amongst the lowest of all the London airports. “We strongly urge passengers to compare any other rates with our rates and to check the credentials carefully of any such company who operate outside of the rules set out in the airport by-laws.

“We are sorry, but we cannot be held responsible for any car parking booked through such channels.”