Rye car park change causes huge online row

Jempson's supermarket in Rye
Jempson's supermarket in Rye

There has been an enormous online backlash to a Rye shop’s decision to change its car park to pay and display.

Jempson’s supermarket on Station Approach, Rye, is currently free for two hours but now plans to charge visitors to stop abusers of the car park and bring it in line with the rest of the town.

But many people have responded with anger to the proposal with more than 140 comments on a post on the store’s Facebook page about the issue.

Susan Arkley called the decision ‘outrageous’ and Mary-ann Sherwood called it a joke.

Graeme Foster called the supermarket’s responses to comments as a ‘PR disaster’.

Dozens of people have expressed their discontent with the shop including former Rye mayor Shaun Rogers who got into a bitter argument with Dominic from Jempson’s.

The store’s plan is to have a £1 charge up to an hour from 9am to 6pm, which is refundable if £5 is spent at Jempson’s.

From 6-9am and 6-10pm, there will be no charge or parking restrictions.

Maximum stay will remain at two hours and a flat fee will apply on Sundays when the shop is closed.

Many people were concerned about being unable to pop-in for a few minutes without having change.

Others were annoyed about having to pay to use the car park when they needed to collect something from the post office or bank.

A lot of people commented saying they will be shopping elsewhere because of the changes.

Owner Stephen Jempson said the decision was made to stop people who were not shopping from using the car park.

“Nine years ago we introduced a two-hour free parking scheme for this car park,” he said.

“The reaction was somewhat similar to what we are encountering now.

“This has worked relatively well for many years. However, over the last two to three years, it is very evident that our efforts to try and deter long stays is simply not working.”

Mr Jempson said the car park is directly affecting their trade on Thursdays, which are particularly busy.

He pointed out the Jempson’s car park is the only free one in Rye and the self-regulation of it does not work.

Mr Jempson believes Rother District Council should provide free parking for two hours to encourage visitors to the town.

He said the system works well in Wealden and their Wadhurst store benefits greatly from it.

“This is the way to ensure the local market towns remain vibrant, remain well used by the local population and become a hub for local entrepreneurialism,” he said.

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