A CHURCH which threatened to tow cars parked on public land outside its building has agreed to stop issuing 'warning' notices to motorists.

The Immanuel International Christian Ministries in Walthamstow posted leaflets ordering drivers not to park on a patch of tarmac next to the pavement in Marlowe Road at the rear of its church.

The church threatened to tow and impound cars, while also claiming it was about to fence off the area.

But Waltham Forest Council has confirmed it owns the land and the church had no right to make such threats.

Shopkeeper Linda Bracey, of nearby Electro Signs in Vallentin Road, said she was "shocked" when she saw the warning notices pinned to her car.

She said: "Cars have been parking on that bit of land for at least 35 years and I was very surprised to find the leaflets.

"There are no signs and when I checked with the council they said it was fine to park there.

"I can't believe a church would act that way and threaten to take away vehicles when they had no right to do so."

After an initial flurry of leaflets earlier this month the church then attached "final notices" to the windscreens of cars which said: "This is private land...cars parked here will be towed away".

A council spokesman said: "it is our land. We had a letter from the church asking to have the land so they could fence it off, to which we said no.

"As we understand it the church has accepted the position and advised that they will stop putting notices on cars.

"Going forward, the council is progressing development proposals for the Marlowe Road Estate and the precinct area and this land is included in this regeneration project.

"We will look at accommodating all needs in the area as part of this scheme."

He said details of the proposals could not be revealed as they were still at the "ideas stage".

The Guardian was unable to contact the church for a comment at the time of going to press.