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LATEST: Confusing parking and fines 'driving trade away' from village

Wednesday 8th December 2021

CONFUSING car park machines and immediate fines are crippling Headcorn High Street, according to local businesses.

The owners of Headcorn Hardware claim since the controversial new system was implemented a few months ago, they have seen a “massive decline” in customers and footfall.

Manager Karen Hamer says shoppers are finding the pay-by-phone ticket machine confusing and damaging enough to not return to the village.

One visitor was reportedly fined £60 on the spot for dropping items off at a charity shop.

Miss Hamer said: “The charges are high, it’s hard to pay by phone, and the fines are immediate and extortionate.

“I see a lot of people talking on social media saying they are not coming to Headcorn anymore, yet we are the local High Street who kept the community going through lockdown.

“What short memories people have and now they are abandoning us thanks to the car park.”

The pair also said the problem was causing “angst” among villagers who claim they see drivers park on double yellow lines out of the view of CCTV.

Miss Hamer added: “It’s just very unfair that you get fined £60 for doing a nice thing, but some people can get away with parking anywhere they want.

“We have a lot of elderly customers and, throughout lockdown, we were a bit of a lifeline for them.

“We were the only people they were seeing during that time. It is not their fault they can’t pay by phone, as many of them don’t have that kind of technology.

“It took a lot of hard work to keep this place going through COVID and this does not help at all.”

Owner Sarah Hancock said: “All they need to do is make the first 30 minutes free and the problem will be solved.”

Maidstone Borough Council confirmed it has no authority or influence over the car park as it is privately owned.

Headcorn parish council clerk Stefan Christodoulou said: “The parish council has managed to push the free parking from 10 minutes to 15 minutes. The problem is that it’s a private company and people have been getting caught out and fined without realising.

“We have been trying to work with the company and have managed to revoke some of the fines given. The cameras scan your number plate and once you park it counts down from 15 minutes. It has definitely caused a lot of problems but I would like to make clear Headcorn Parish Council is not responsible for the car park.”

UK Parking Control and Creative Car Park LTD were approached for comment.