A COUNCIL worker owned up to issuing £10,000 worth of fake parking permits and cancelling penalty notices for friends halfway through her trial.

Heather Ffrench, of Sparrows Herne, Basildon, confessed to carrying out 25 frauds while working as a parking notice officer for Southend Council – two days into proceedings at Southend Crown Court.

Her U-turn came after months of pre-trial court hearings in which the 52-year-old maintained her innocence in relation to 30 allegations of fraud by abuse of position.

Ffrench also entered fresh not guilty pleas to five of the charges and they were accepted by prosecutor Ramiz Gursoy, acting on behalf of Southend Council.

In total, French admitted to issuing 13 permits under fake names and addresses and cancelling 12 parking fines.

At least one of the permits was discovered being displayed in her car under a false name in the council’s own car park in Victoria Avenue, Southend.

Some of the offences, which all took place between 2009 and 2016, related to favours done for friends.

However, the court heard other allegations related to permits and tickets cancelled for her co-defendant Anthony Olomofe, of Curling Tye, Basildon, who is still on trial.

He worked in the council’s IT department and denies four counts of fraud by abuse of position and four counts of fraud by false representation.

The court heard his alleged offences took place between 2011 and 2015 at a time when he was frequently being issued with parking tickets.

Yesterday, jurors were shown parking tickets issued to Olomofe and computer printouts showing records of how the fines were handled.

Giving evidence, a parking department manager told the court Ffrench cancelled a ticket issued to the 46-year-old in August 2015, giving the reason as a “gesture of goodwill.”

Mr Gursoy asked: “Looking at that can you see any challenge to that parking ticket? Can you see any decision in respect of that parking ticket?” The officer replied: “No. It was cancelled by Miss Ffrench.”

Mr Gursoy said: “She logs it as a gesture of goodwill and writes: ‘Staff said permit found, advises cancellation on this occasion.’ Was she authorised to listen to representations from members of staff about cancellations?’

The officer replied: “No.”

The trial continues.