Residents of Penicuik and district have taken to social media to vent their fury after Lidl introduced number recognition parking that allows only customers to use the facility.
The discount supermarket chain, which opened in Penicuik in 2009, started to phase in number plate recognition cameras last August, preventing people from staying beyond ninety minutes without receiving a fine in the form of a parking charge notice.
However up until last week, everyone had been welcome to park, including those who use the neighbouring Penicuik Medical Centre. Now, new restrictions have been put in place preventing anyone who does not receive a receipt in Lidl from parking in the 75 space carpark. It means there is now only one public car park to provide spaces for the remainder of the town centre, including the Penicuik Medical Centre.
Cars using the Lidl carpark will have their number plate scanned upon entry. After completing their shopping in store, drivers must then scan their receipt and enter their number plate on a computer adjacent to the checkouts. This will then prevent them from receiving a £90 penalty notice. Failure to scan your receipt or to shop with the chain will generate an automatic fee.
On social media site Facebook, residents and shoppers were outraged by the move with many calling for a boycott:
Gina Clark, chair of the Penicuik Community Council, added:
We understand that this will have a knock on effect on a lot of residents who are using the GP Practice as well as those who are parking in Lidl to carry out shopping in Penicuik precinct. This will also impact visitors from around the area who come to shop in Penicuik and visit the Market.
I can confirm that this matter will be thoroughly looked into by the Penicuik and District Community Council. Any further action will be disclosed in due course.
New Conservative councillor and group leader Pauline Winchester also pledged on Twitter to investigate the matter. She told a constituent that she would “take it up on her behalf” saying that she too “parked there often”. Another local councillor Debbi McColl (SNP) has started a petition aimed at getting Lidl to allow GP patients to also use the car park.
A spokesperson for Lidl UK said:
Unfortunately it was recently brought to our attention that a number of customers were experiencing ongoing problems locating available parking spaces in our car park, when visiting our store to carrying out their shopping. As a responsible retailer we are committed to prioritising the needs of our customers and, as such, took the decision to install a car park management system to help ensure availability of parking spaces. The system allows for up to 90 minutes of parking, with a 10 minute grace period, should a customer change their mind.
Contrary to popular belief, the parking charge notice must be paid if issued or the parking management company AthenaANPR could take you to court to achieve a much higher amount.
As Midlothian Council prepares to roll out so called “blue meanie” parking enforcement officers this year, parking in Penicuik’s Town Centre will now be incredibly limited. The only public carpark left will be Evolve Estate’s 130 space facility outside B&M Bargains. Despite the signage, the Cuckoo understands that that carpark has not been managed in around two years, though it could be in the future.
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