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Issue 295 – Anger as Marks & Spencer hikes parking charges

TRADERs in Frome have hit out at new parking charges introduced to Marks & Spencer’s car park, accusing the company of damaging the local economy.

The new charges are being trialled by Marks & Spencer at six of its stores across the country, including Frome’s store in Saxonvale.
Previously it was free to park in the car park, but under the new charges, motorists must pay £2 to park for one hour. The charge can be recouped if £15 or more is spent in the store.
The new charges have angered local traders, who say the new charges are putting people off shopping in the area.
Steve Whitehouse, who runs Passion Box nearby, says Marks & Spencer have gone a “step too far”.
“I think this is just another Frome town centre joke – I am livid about it,” Steve Whitehouse said. “When we first came to Frome they shut all the car parks down to resurface them which lost us thousands of pounds, then Woolworths went and Iceland came and made our lives hell, then there has been the road closures, and now this.
“It might be a private car park, but Marks & Spencer still has a responsibility to care for the local economy. This is destroying the local economy – it is a very bad idea.
“People have been saying that they will not come back and shop in Frome again. It is a joke.”
Lisa Carter, from Frome Pet & Aquatics said that the new charges have had a significant impact on the store’s takings. She said, “Whilst we do have free parking for our customers here, we have only got a few spaces. A lot of customers have mentioned the charges – this end of town is like a ghost town because of it and the car park is empty most of the time.
“It has had a real impact on trade in the area and we are very disappointed that Marks & Spencer has decided to do this.”
Local man David Chandler is one of many who use the car park. He said, “I think Marks & Spencers have got the perfect right to charge exactly what they want.
“They have a space to manage there and they need to make it pay just as any other privately owned land in the town centre.
“I personally respect their wishes however, I do think they have set their rates a little too high. At the end of the day though, it is not a public car park so we cannot expect it to be treated like one.”
A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer told the Frome Times, “It’s always our intention to ensure that we have parking spaces available for our customers – which is why we are trialling this approach.
“The intention is that customers will have spaces to park as we are aware that some people use the car park for other purposes.
“We appreciate that some customers have concerns about the trial. Their feedback is very important to us and we will take this on board when we review the trial.”

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