The new parking restrictions, which were to have been imposed by Tesco in the New Year, caused a social media storm over the weekend of 7 and 8 December 2019.
The limits would have prevented people from parking for more than three hours during Tesco’s opening hours, and 15 minutes when the store was closed, with a fine of £70 for anyone exceeding the limits or infringing other parking rules. It was widely rumoured that the reason for the parking restrictions was to curb antisocial behaviour, although a Tesco spokesperson maintained it was so the high demand for spaces could be managed.
A mags4dorset’s report on its Facebook news page about the restrictions reached over 12,000 people generating nearly 100 comments including the following (minor punctuation errors have been corrected):
Bob Almond: “It’s always been my understanding that Tesco only received permission to build the store on condition that they made the parking publicly available. Free parking is one of the few things that makes Ferndown Town Centre distinctive – other towns have a wider range of stores to choose from. Surely Tesco are cutting their own throats by doing this – they will push shoppers away from Ferndown.”
William Crimson: “This isn`t very friendly, neighbourly, or in the spirit of all the good things that Ferndown traders are trying very hard to present to the public, a step backwards one thinks.”
Amey Louise Richardson: “It’s standard practice for a supermarket to have a max stay, most car park do these days. Plus it’s private land so they can do what they want.”
Paul Hardiman: “So what happens to the people who work in Ferndown, and their businesses dont have employee parking?”
James Dickson: “Same as anywhere else in the country.”
Jackie Smith: “Saying it’s the same as anywhere else sounds a bit bitter to me. So what if other places don’t offer free parking … it’s a treat, a bonus, something we could have been proud of in Ferndown. Do we HAVE to be like everywhere else? Does that make it right? Obviously those who think its acceptable DON’T work in Ferndown. Support your town folks. Protect what we have.”
Alan Ball: “Hmm, this drives another nail into the commercial viability of Ferndown. People have used that car park to go round the town and do their shopping then go into Tesco on their way out. Parking for the Barrington in the evening and for St Mary’s on a Sunday. What is next? pay to park there? Companies only take these things on to make money.”
Some Ferndown shoppers thought a three-hour time limit in the day was acceptable. Local resident Neil Bird told mags4dorset, “Three hours is ample in the day. Fifteen minutes will catch people though.”
However, Jan and Suzie who shop locally said, “We come in for nails and hair and if they’re running late, we’ve never had to think about the time.”
Former mayor of Ferndown, John Muggleton said, “It’s a community car park. I was at the original meeting in 1982/83 when the car park was discussed. It was built for the community and residents are very proud of it and should defend it.”
Local businesses were dumbfounded because the new restrictions would have prevented staff from parking in the centrally located car park and pushed them on to the residential roads. Owner, Becky, of Ferndown Pharmacy told mags4dorset, “Staff won’t have anywhere to park and we don’t want to annoy the residents in the area.”
Lauren at Pretty Soul hairdressing salon said, “Colour can take more than three hours. We are not sure where our customers will be able to park, or our staff.”
Stuart Fleetham, owner of Xerocad and former president of Ferndown chamber said, “Free parking is vital for the town. Ferndown high street is struggling and a lot of retailers do not have parking. I’ve run a business in the town for 16 years and Ferndown has had free, unrestricted parking for over 30 years. This has been relied upon and now Tesco want to take it away without any consultation. It will have a massive detrimental effect on small businesses and residential roads around the area will get clogged up.”
Ferndown Town Council and Dorset councillor, Mike Parkes, said it was a total surprise when the signs went up in the car park because there had been no consultation with Ferndown Town Council or Dorset Council and that the changes would have had a huge impact on the day time and evening economy in the town and would have pushed traffic issues elsewhere.
He took up the gauntlet to make representations to Tesco and when the news of the prompt u-turn came through on 10 December, he said, “I am delighted that as a direct result of my actions on behalf of many individuals, users, community groups and businesses within the town, Tesco have listened to these representations alongside a huge public tide of discontent and as a result will be withdrawing the restrictions with immediate effect thus securing free and unrestricted parking within the town.”
The store director, Andy Cruttenden, at Tesco Ferndown said, “We always want to do the right thing for the community we serve and to support our local town. After listening to the concerns of our customers we have decided not to introduce parking restrictions in our Ferndown car park.”
Mike Parkes added, “It is important we recognise the huge sense of community in the town and I thank everyone for maintaining a sensible approach whilst we collectively worked towards a resolution.
“Moving forwards, I will be meeting with senior officers in Dorset Police to discuss a more pragmatic and sensible approach to tackling antisocial behaviour following which I will bringing together all appropriate representatives to ensure the town centre remains safe and welcoming to all users.”
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