Until today (Tuesday), Morrisons was offering season tickets to its Reigate car park for £50 a month, comparing favourably to the £82.75 rate for the nearby Bell Street car park run by the council.
The supermarket chain was listing spaces on YourParkingSpace, an “online parking marketplace” – but that’s no longer the case.
The normal rule in the Morrisons car park is that there are two hours’ free parking, 7am – 7pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and 10am – 4pm on Sundays, with no return within two hours. Enforcement of the two hour limit is via cameras. Outside of those times, parking is free without limit.
In contrast, the YourParkingSpace (YPS) site, which offered both monthly and hourly passes, stated that those who paid to reserve a place could come and go multiple times, for the duration of their booking.
Signs in the car park also invited non-booked users to use YPS to pay for extra time if they needed more than the two free hours.
However, Morrisons said yesterday: “We have listened to our customers and understand that they are finding the Your Parking Space service and signs confusing. We have therefore taken the decision to stop it and the signs will be removed this week.
“Parking will still be free for two hours and this will continue to be monitored by Euro Car Parking”.
It wasn’t immediately clear from that whether both the top-up scheme and the booking arrangements were being dropped, and reigate.uk unsuccessfully sought clarification from Morrisons. But in the course of today, the bookable spaces have disappeared from the YPS site.
Asked last week how many people were taking up the monthly pass option, a Morrisons spokesperson said the information was commercially sensitive.
The YPS website described the bookings as “guaranteed”. According to Morrisons and YPS, spaces weren’t specifically allocated to achieve this, but rather occupancy data was monitored and used to place a limit on passes sold.
Since December 2019, users had been leaving positive reviews on the YPS website about the booking option at the car park. One user wrote in June 2021: “Easy and convenient for all Reigate has to offer. I arrived at 8.30 and there was plenty of spaces.”
The use of the car park by shoppers, non-shoppers, in the daytime, and out of hours, have all been talking points over the years since the store opened in the 1990s.
Prior to the store’s construction a ‘section 106’ planning agreement was drawn up in 1992 between original developer Safeway, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, and the landowner. Two paragraphs state:
4.1.3 the proposed car park to be constructed as part of the Development will be made available for public use at no charge outside the Developer’s usual trading hours
4.1.4 the said car park will be managed by the Developer as a short term shoppers car park and the management and control of the said car park will be discussed between the Developer and the Council and the Developer will at its entire discretion comply with any reasonable requirement of the Council as to management and control of the said car park.
Reigate.uk asked Morrisons last week about how the services offered via YPS fitted with the 1992 agreement. A spokesperson noted that the car park remained free outside of the hours Morrisons is allowed to control, but the company did not respond more widely on the agreement, including as to whether it had sought discussions with the council.
Reigate.uk also asked the council about the agreement and the arrangements available via YPS. A council spokesperson said: “This is the first report we have received at the council in relation to this issue.
“We have had no prior discussions about it with Morrisons or YourParkingSpace and will need to investigate whether it is a breach of the planning and S106 restrictions.”
YourParkingSpace does have details of other private car parks elsewhere in Reigate that can be booked monthly or daily by the hour.
The council also offers season tickets for its car parks. The £82.75 monthly price quoted at the top of this article is for the council’s Bell Street car park and an annual ticket (£993).
Minor edits were made to this article on 16 February.