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Issue 298 – Car park’s new charges to stay after “positive feedback”

Recently introduced charges to the Marks & Spencer car park in Frome are to remain in place for the time being, with the company reporting a “positive response” to the charges.

When they were introduced in March as a trial, the new charges were met with disdain from furious retailers in the town centre who said they would drive away vital trade.
However, despite reports from local traders saying the car park is empty most of the time, Marks & Spencer has said it will continue to charge those who park in the car park.
The Frome store is one of six across the country where the charges are being trialled. The rest of the company’s car parks are free to use. Marks & Spencer says it has received a “positive response” to the changes made to the Frome car park.
Frome’s MP David Heath has written to Marks and Spencer after receiving numerous complaints from his constituents about the charges. He said, “I wrote to the boss and got a non-commital response back which basically said that it is their policy and nothing much was going to be done about it.
“You put these new charges together with all the other charges in the town and it makes Frome a difficult place to shop in, at a time when traders are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.”
Marks & Spencer has, however, lowered the eligibility for a payment refund since the charges were introduced last month. Shoppers still pay £2 to park, but this is refunded if they spend at least £5 instore. When they were first introduced, at least £15 had to be spent instore before a refund was given.
A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said, “It is always our intention to ensure that we have parking spaces available for our customers, which is why we are trialling this approach.
“Though it is still early days, we have already received a positive response to the increased parking availability at the Frome store.
“We have said all along that we will take on board our customers’ feedback and that is exactly what we have done.
“The car parking charge is now refundable to anyone spending £5 instore. Our trial will continue with these changes in place and we welcome any further feedback.”
Janine Tozer, owner of nearby Frome Pet & Aquatic has written to MP David Heath about the charges. She says that the charges have had a detrimental impact on her shop’s trade.
“It is not good news for us, unfortunately,” she said. “They say that they have had positive feedback from customers about the increased availability of spaces in the car park, but I wonder from how many customers, as the car park is hardly used now.”

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