Furious Highbridge residents have hit out at supermarket giant Asda this week after the store introduced controversial new restrictions on who can use its car park.
It has introduced a two-hour maximum stay for its customers and signs installed this week state that the car park is a “customer-only car park for use only whilst shopping in store.”
Asda has employed a contractor, ParkingEye Limited, to use number plate recognition cameras to monitor usage and serve £70 fines on those who break the rules.
Local residents say they rely on the car park due to a lack of local parking spaces in the town centre, with nearby side roads already full.
An Asda staff member told Burnham-On-Sea.com this week that the store has been forced to introduce the charges due to “misuse” of the car park that led to too few spaces being available for shoppers.
Highbridge councillor John Parkes told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I have been contacted by many residents this week who are rightly furious that these restrictions have been introduced without any proper consultation.”
“The new rules have suddenly been brought in with no regard for residents which, given that Asda claims to be a community-minded organisation, are shocking. To say that residents are fuming is an under statement.”
John added: “I have been in contact with Sedgemoor District Council to clarify the position for residents who have previously parked in the Asda car park for several years.”
“I have seen a letter stating that there is ‘no legal requirement’ for Asda to provide parking spaces for residents, but the district council negotiated with Asda for it to provide some spaces several years ago.”
“Given that Church Street is mainly double yellow lined and side roads are already filled with parked vehicles, this is a real problem for the town.”
“Asda’s new restrictions appear to have been a knee-jerk reaction to residents using the car park without any thought of the follow-on consequences for the local community.”
Local residents have this week criticised Asda on social media for the decision.
Jane Lee said: “Where exactly is there anywhere for Highbridge residents to park if they cannot park outside where they live.”
Local resident Tess Prodger added: “When we moved in five years ago I spoke to the store who said it was no problem to park there.”
Sharon Reid said late on Thursday evening: “Asda car park at this moment is all but empty, the streets are chocker. A compromise surely 8pm to 8am could be for residents to continue to park there. Although I’ve never seen it full to no parking places left in all the time Asda has been there.”
Another resident, Laura Cooper, adds: “I’ve been in Asda and spoke to the manager. The car park is owned by Asda, not the council, and they said due to cars being dumped and left in the car park untaxed they have installed the cameras. I asked what about residents and he said that they can’t park there overnight anymore from when the cameras are turned on.”
Burnham-On-Sea.com has asked Asda for formal clarification on the new restrictions. A spokesman told us on Friday: “Our aim is to make shopping with Asda as easy as possible, so to ensure that all of our customers have access to a parking space when they visit our Highbridge store, we have recently introduced a two hour parking limit. For those customers who need a little more time to finish their shop just need to let one of our colleagues know.”