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Published: 16 July 2009

Supermarket giants pay fines and continue flouting rules

MAJOR supermarkets are flouting parking laws to ensure smooth deliveries to their smaller “convenience store” outlets, the New Journal can reveal.
Big chains which own sites across Camden are ignoring yellow lines on a daily basis by factoring in the risk of getting tickets into their annual budgets.
Residents fed up with disruptive deliveries at all hours – which it is claimed cause jams and pollution – have warned that some of Britain’s biggest supermarket giants are using their financial muscle to ignore the rules.
Camden Council – which has been criticised for what is seen as a money-grabbing approach to parking – has now been told it must do more to stop the stores acting with impunity.
Ideas mooted include extra penalties for repeat offenders, which could mean more expensive tickets for a supermarket that has racked up more than a dozen offences.
Residents have also questioned why the companies have been able to open smaller, local shops in streets where they know there are no options for parking.
?Four years ago Tesco took over the Crispins Food Hall chain, giving them a retail foothold in smaller, residential shopping streets such as Englands Lane, Belsize Park and Swains Lane, Highgate. They say they have accepted the fact they will receive tickets and have factored the fines into their costs.
In Kentish Town Road alone, supermarkets make up the bulk of culprits responsible for around 6,500 tickets in the past six months alone.
Tesco, which runs one of their smaller Metro late-night stores in Kentish Town Road, have revealed they receive a parking ticket on an almost daily basis as there are double yellow lines outside the shop. They say their drivers have no choice but to park there and then face the consequences. A spokesman for Tesco said: “We are aware of this problem but there is no loading bay outside our shop and there is little we can do about it. We do get fines regularly, and we simply have to accept that and pay them.”
Both Iceland and Somerfield, who also have branches in the street, receive tickets, although Somerfield say they has been working with Camden Council to find a suitable alternative to dropping goods off and have vowed to only deliver at 7am when their trucks will not slow down traffic and break parking laws.
A spokesman for Iceland said they had tried at first to deliver before there was too much traffic and parking restrictions came into force. But because of noise complaints over early morning deliveries, their drivers now run a daily gauntlet of traffic wardens. The spokesman added: “Iceland operates a two-hour delivery window for its stores. Out of consideration for residents in the area, and to comply with noise abatement, we rescheduled our delivery times from 6am to 8am to arrive between seven and nine morning. Unfortunately this has had an impact on the number of tickets we receive. We are continuing to review the situation.”
With a new Sainsbury’s supermarket due to open in the old Woolworths site on the street, some residents say now is the time to bring in stricter delivery times before 8am – and insist on green vans running on electricity or gas to cut exhaust fumes.
Kentish Town Road has one of the highest levels of the deadly car pollutant nitrous oxide and critics say the delivery lorries cause congestion that make this problem worse.
Lib Dem councillor Ralph Scott said the Town Hall should explore giving persistent offenders a sliding scale of charges to put them off. He added: “The big supermarkets just don’t seem to care. The parking rules are there for a reason, but because they have the cash these big multinationals think they can just break them with impunity. It must stop.
“We want businesses to thrive – but they need to work with the community.”
Caroline Hill of the Kentish Town Road Action Group said that a balance had to be struck. She added: “People feel strongly about this. The only alternative is for lorries to go round the back of the high street but it is not suitable as it is residential. The only answer is to make them come in quieter hours and to use greener vehicles.”

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