Pinner Station Car Park – Pinner Association complaint about the changes to the parking fees and response from J Sainsbury PLC:

The Pinner Association sent a message to Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsbury’s, re the Pinner Station Car Park charges that have been introduced for weekend parking:

The Pinner Association, Registered Charity number 262349, is an amenity society representing over 2,000 households in Pinner Middlesex. There has been a Sainsbury’s store in Pinner for some 90 years, since 1986 on a site adjacent to Pinner Station (TfL Metropolitan Line).

We are given to understand by TfL that Pinner Station Car Park is operated under contract to your company by Euro Car Parks. Last November it came to our notice that, after 37 years of free weekend parking, a notice had been erected at the Station Car Park main entrance to the effect that the sum of £5.25 was payable on all days of the week, including at weekends.

When we raised the matter with TfL, who obviously operate the Station itself, their Director of Planning knew nothing of any change to the charging regime, and referred us to you. It therefore appears that Euro Car Parks introduced the additional weekend charge without any consultation with stakeholders whatsoever.

Following the erection of the notice, a number of our members and other users received letters from Euro Car Parks alleging that an unspecified offence had been committed. Some wrote to Euro Car Parks asking for clarification of the nature of the offence, and received no reply. Others either ignored the letter or thought it had been sent in error, parked a second time during a weekend, and received a parking ticket.

Simultaneously an issue was identified with the ground level section of the Car Park, which for years had been accessible from the Sainsbury Car Park without any barrier or warning signage, and was being used by your store’s clients at busy times, either as an overspill facility or because the small size of the parking spaces was making dent-free parking an increasingly rare event. In January a number of Sainsbury shoppers using this section also received notice of having committed an unspecified offence, and those who wrote to Euro Car Parks asking for clarification so that residents could be aware of what had changed were once again not afforded the courtesy of a reply. As with the weekend offenders, they too were fined before it being made clear what they were doing wrong. It was only after several fines had been paid that first a scruffy handwritten notice, and a week or so later, a printed notice, appeared, telling drivers that they were actually entering part of the Station Car Park rather than an overspill section of the Store Car Park.

In recent weeks the store itself has posted an official notice warning customers that the ground level section of the Station Car Park is not part of the Store Car Park, itself a prima facie admission that the signage in the Car Park itself was either inadequate or non-existent.

Some residents have appealed, but there has not been a consistent response, and some of your clients are still £50 or £85 out of pocket. As a result, some have transferred their allegiance to your rivals and others are threatening to do so failing a satisfactory response on your part.

As an Association what we are seeking is listed below:
– an explanation was to why the weekend free parking was summarily discontinued with no consultation with stakeholders;
– an explanation as to why TfL as the Station operator, was not informed, so that train passengers could be Informed of the change;
– an explanation why there was not for several years any signage explaining the different status of the two ground level parking areas
– an explanation from Euro Car Parks of their failure to reply to the perfectly reasonable requests by “offenders” to know what offences they were deemed to have committed;
– expeditious restoration of the free parking facility at weekends in the Station Car Park;
– repayment by Euro Car Parks of all fines levied as the result of inadequate or non-existent signage where appeals on those grounds have been rejected.
We have photographic evidence of the absence or inadequacy of relevant signage, which we can provide in support of the issues raised above. We hope that this will not be necessary and that you will respond positively to this email, thereby restoring your company’s good name in Pinner.

The following reply has been received from J Sainsbury PLC:

Thank you for your recent email which has been read and received by our Group CEO, Simon Roberts. Simon has asked that I review your concerns and personally respond on his behalf.

For many years we operated a Pay On Foot barrier system on our Pinner station car park, but in recent times we found this prone to recurring faults and failures, causing significant inconvenience for commuters using the car park, and undermining our basic ability to manage the car park properly.

Therefore, in November 2023 we implemented a brand new ANPR camera controlled Pay On Exit system.  This is a state of the art, and far more convenient and effective way of managing the car park, removing the delays and hassle associated with queuing at barriers.  The installation included brand new touch screen pay stations.

We supported this change with a full signage replacement across the car park, Euro Car Parks colleagues were on site to help customers adapt to the new system, and we also had a period of time where ECP issued information letters rather than PCNs, again to help customers move over to the new system.

In light of the significant investment in the parking system we have extended charging to include weekends, and we have also been advertising this widely via supplementary signage.  Weekend charging is typical for all TfL station car parks in the vicinity and ultimately it was no longer sustainable for us to offer free parking.

However, there remains two hours free parking for all those who park on site, via the Sainsbury’s shoppers car park.

We sympathise with your frustration and as such I have asked ECP to review on-site signage once again, to ensure the parking rules are as clear as possible.  This includes reviewing the point the customer makes regarding the ground level parking area.