On 14 April 2011, Tesco’s Corporate Affairs Manager Sophie Akokhia attended a public meeting organized by Dinas Powys Community Council to discuss the proposed Tesco Express on Castle Drive.
In an introduction by Sophie Akokhia, she said that the store would help regenerate the former Castle Oak Pub building and surrounding area, the parking area would be resurfaced with no time limit for all shoppers, the store would offer a top-up shopping destination and cut down visits to larger supermarkets, and that at least 20 jobs would be created. Some research from Southampton University was also quoted that showed the potential for more people to visit nearby stores.
In this post, I will just focus on the car park. This is where the most immediate discrepancy between the reassurances given by Tesco and the reality of the store opening occurred (although I plan to touch on other issues in later posts).
Tesco have certainly smartened up the area, especially the area behind the back of The Parade shops, where there has always been an infrequently-used free communal parking area. However, Tesco promptly handed over the running of this car park to Euro Car Parks Ltd and draconian parking restrictions were imposed (see photo), which were totally at odds with what was suggested at the April meeting. The new notices proclaimed a 20 minute limit for shopping in Tesco with fines of £70 for overstaying this short time. The wording was particularly galling, as it suggested residents wanted this because of difficulty in finding a parking place (and would even welcome the £70 fines!). In fact, no one in Dinas Powys wanted this car park privatized (this is a village where no one ever pays to park a car) and it is never full. For several weeks only the manager and staff of Tesco Express have parked in the resurfaced car park.
I pointed out the disparity between the assurance and the reality on a social networking site on 5 January and made sure my comments found their way into Sophie Akokhia’s inbox.
This morning (10 January) the car parking signs were gone and a notice in the shop says: Please note we have a FREE 22 spaced car park at the rear of the store. There is no time limitation at present.
The car park situation most probably arose through a misunderstanding between Tesco and their contractors.
I’ll be posting further on developments, particularly on how Tesco and local businesses are co-existing in Dinas Powys (as lessons learned here are relevant to villages and small towns throughout the UK).