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Waitrose backs down from stand-off with residents over parking times in Longfield

PUBLISHED: 12:51 06 December 2016 | UPDATED: 13:16 06 December 2016

Waitrose's Longfield car park

Waitrose's Longfield car park

Archant

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson says common sense has prevailed

Waitrose has finally backed down from its long-running stand-off with residents over parking times at its Longfield store, agreeing to extend the maximum stay by a further 30 minutes.

The supermarket chain faced a barrage of complaints earlier this year after it began enforcing a 90-minute restriction on parking times at the site, with fines of up to £75 for those caught breaching the limit.

But while Waitrose claimed the changes were made to crack down on commuters, residents complained they were being forced to cut short their shopping trips and local businesses began to lose their custom.

Locals said the car park was previously a public one and there was always an understanding that provision would be made for local shoppers, and petitions calling on the supermarket to back down attracted around 1,000 signatures.

Dartford’s council leader Jeremy Kite and MP Gareth Johnson backed calls for a compromise, and the supermarket has finally agreed to make a concession.

From January 9 next year, free car parking at the Longfield store will be extended from 90 minutes to two hours.

However, while the move will be welcomed by many, it still falls well short of the four-hour parking limit favoured by some residents who signed the petition.

MP for Dartford Gareth Johnson said: “Waitrose is a valued part of the local community. This decision should give shoppers time to use both Waitrose and some of the other excellent shops on the High Street and I know that this decision will be welcomed.

“I’m pleased that Waitrose has responded positively to the representations that myself and others have made to them to extend available parking time in its store’s car park.

“Common sense appears to have prevailed.”

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “We want Longfield to thrive and have aimed to find a solution that gives shoppers more time to visit the town while still enabling us to look after our customers by managing a car park which has come under increasing pressure.”

What are your views? Is Waitrose’s concession good enough? Email simon.allin@archant.co.uk

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