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Customers of the shops on Norwich Road have received parking fines, due to the land in front of the stores now being classed as private property by its owner, as a result of a dispuite between Tesco and the landowner - From left, angry with their fines, Peter Nicholson, Linda Warmer, Edward Abbs, Clare Biggie, Robert Nunn, Tina Cook, Ritchie Dymond and Laura Skeet. Picture: Matthew Usher.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Hundreds of drivers in Dereham have been caught in the cross-fire of a bitter dispute between a landowner and shop chain One Stop.
The land at the centre of the controversy is owned by Zevy Shainfeld, director of Zas Investment. He took on Car Park Solutions (CPS) to monitor unauthorised cars parking in the spaces, often customers from the take-away and the One Stop shop.
Mr Shainfeld said he has made repeated requests to One Stop to discuss an arrangement for their customers to use the spaces, and said issuing tickets was a “last resort”.
He said: “We own the car park and they [Tesco] have not made us any offer for its use on a commercial basis. When I walk into their shop and pick up a basket of shopping, I pay for it. If they wish to entitle their customers to use the parking spaces, then I would expect One Stop to talk to us and agree a commercial arrangement as it doesn’t belong to them.”
Andre Smith, regional development manager for CPS, said: “Our job is to do a job to make sure people are not parking on the land. But people are just not paying attention to the signs.”
CPS said it will continue ticketing whoever parks on the private land until a commercial agreement can be made.
The EDP has been inundated with complaints from people who have been sent £60 parking tickets – which go up to £100 if not paid within two weeks – after leaving their vehicles outside the shop, owned by Tesco, on Norwich Road.
More than 500 tickets have been sent out to motorists, with the numbers continuing to rise.
The company which monitors the eight parking spaces has already given out more tickets in one week than they have for a month across their 142 car parks in the whole country.
Many of those who have been caught on CCTV had only parked for a few minutes to pop in to the shop or pick up food from the neighbouring Sunflower House Chinese takeaway.
Claire Colman from Sporle received a ticket following her daughter’s parents’ evening at Dereham Neatherd High School.
She had stopped to buy her daughter a packet of sweets, and said she was in the space for no more than three minutes.
She called the ticket “ridiculous” and said she did not see the two signs.
Josephine Lloyd, 74, has breast cancer and received a fine after stopping at One Stop on the way back from a hospital appointment with her husband.
She has a disabled badge displayed in her car, and said on top of her ill-health she cannot afford to pay the £60.
She said: “Stopping to get a newspaper is a bit of joy in my life. On receiving the ticket, I was absolutely gob-smacked.”
Claire Biggie, 21, parked at the Chinese take-away and said: “I’m a student nurse who doesn’t have much money as it is, but I paid the fine as I like to think I’m an honest citizen. But it isn’t fair what’s happening.”
The dispute has become increasingly acrimonious and has little sign of being resolved due to an impasse between London-based Zas Investment and One Stop.
Zas wants Tesco to pay for the use of the parking spaces and claims the supermarket giant is refusing to make an offer.
Neither side will discuss the figures involved, but the EDP has been told the amount in dispute could be as high as £250,000.
Staff at the One Stop store are clearly frustrated by the situation, and many people with fines have questioned them about the issue.
They were not able to talk openly about the issue, but a spokesman for One Stop said they had been in talks with the new owner of the site to try to reach a resolution.
They added: “We are prepared to pay a reasonable amount in order that our customers may park without incurring these charges.
“In the meantime, we are making sure customers are aware that this isn’t a One Stop car park through signage in our store windows.”