Wel­come, but don’t stay too long or you’ll get a £70 fine

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Cash-strapped Commuters - By Vicky Cas­tle

Cus­tomers at Sains­bury’s in Ash­ford could find a £70 charge land on their doorstep if they are caught out by new park­ing rules and a high-tech sur­veil­lance sys­tem.

By­brook Sains­bury’s in Si­mone Weil Av­enue will con­tinue to al­low shop­pers to park for three hours, but the store has now in­stalled a num­ber plate recog­ni­tion cam­era that will cal­cu­late ex­actly how long they have parked there for.

The new sys­tem was put in place to stop com­muters and car shar­ers us­ing the car park all day, which is dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor with a sin­gle park­ing at­ten­dent cov­er­ing a num­ber of car parks.

But cus­tomers think it is a fair so­lu­tion to a grow­ing prob­lem of park­ing in the town.

One shop­per, Mrs Linda Herbert,a re­tired teacher from God­in­ton Park, said: “I think it’s fine be­cause three hours is plenty of time to spend in the shop even if you stop to eat some­thing.

“It’s def­i­nitely rea­son­able of them in or­der to stop peo­ple park­ing here then nip­ping off to the sta­tion.

“Staff were giv­ing out leaflets at the front of the store for a while so I think cus­tomers had plenty of time and no­tice.”

CCTV style cam­eras have been placed at the en­trance and exit to the car park and take timed pho­to­graphs the car en­ter­ing and leav­ing the car park, and also close ups of the ve­hi­cle’s num­ber plate.

Prob­lems with the sys­tem might arise when a cus­tomer vis­its Sains­bury’s more than once in 24 hours and finds that their first en­try is paired with their last exit.

But shop­per Mr James Jones, a re­tired pub­lisher from Park Farm, said the cus­tomer ser­vice desk are more than happy to help with any ex­cep­tions or queries.

He said: “The staff told me that if you are dis­abled, you just have to let some­one at cus­tomer ser­vices know in case you end up park­ing for more than three hours.

“So I check in to the desk when I get here and they sort it out for me if I’m any longer

‘We’re always look­ing for ways to make shop­ping eas­ier for our cus­tomers… the elec­tronic num­ber plate recog­ni­tion sys­tem helps cus­tomers have bet­ter ac­cess to avail­able spa­ces in our car park’

than three hours, which i’m usu­ally not.

“It is a good idea be­cause it stops peo­ple park­ing here all day or when they’re not sup­posed to and three hours is enough time to use the shop.

“I’m sure a lot of peo­ple used to park here for the hos­pi­tal so you can’t blame them for do­ing some­thing about it.”

Cus­tomers will face a £70 charge if they go over the three hour limit, park in a dis­abled bay with­out a valid blue badge, park in a par­ent and child bay with­out a child or park out­side a marked bay.

A Sains­bury’s spokesper­son said: “We’re always look­ing for ways to make shop­ping eas­ier for our cus­tomers and the elec­tronic num­ber plate recog­ni­tion sys­tem at our By­brook store helps cus­tomers have bet­ter ac­cess to avail­able spa­ces in our car park, which is par­tic­u­larly use­ful at busy times.”

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group. co.uk

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