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