The introduction of a new parking system at a Lidl car park used by patients of Penicuik Medical Practice has sparked fury.
Lidl is making visitors enter their car registration at check-outs – or face a charge of up to £90. That has sparked a backlash in the community with 500 signatures in an online petition with 48 hours, and political pressure calling for a re-think.
Lidl’s actions centre on its St Kentigern Way store . The retailer had previously allowed surgery patients to use its car park for up to 90 minutes. Now it wants them to come into the store and log their car registration at the checkouts – or face charges up to £90.
Lidl said it made the change because its customers couldn’t get parked. But the new parking system has sparked a huge backlash.
Debbi McCall, SNP councillor for Penicuik, has started a petition calling on Lidl to allow surgery patients to continue to use the car park for free.
Within two days, the online petition had more than 500 signatures, with a further 147 gathered at protest at the store on Saturday.
Cllr McCall said: “Patients need to access GP and nurse services. They should not have to buy products from Lidl to allow them to park. Thereis a lot of anger. People deeply unhappy about it.
“We are looking to spend a lot of money in Penicuik Town Centre but if there aren’t places to park where does that leave us? We want to encourage people to come into the town centre. “I think Lidl will lose the community’s good will with this move. A bit of leeway would be better, I feel they are using a sledgehammer to deal with this, it’s disappointing.”
Penicuik Medical Practice insists the car park is a matter for Lidl, but hopes to reach a compromise.
Gail McCabe, assistant practice manager, said: “The car park was never ours, we don’t have parking facilities. I think patients’ perception was that we owned part of it but we don’t.
“Lidl has created this problem and it should solve it. We do feel for our patients, –the elderly in particular. They need to use the car park when they come here. We would like to think Lidl could be more flexible with our patients.”
A spokesman for Lidl said: “It was recently brought to our attention that a number of customers were experiencing ongoing problems locating available parking spaces. As a responsible retailer we are committed to prioritising the needs of our customers and took the decision to install a car park management system to help ensure availability of parking spaces. The system allows for up to 90 minutes of parking, with a 10 minute grace period, should a customer change their mind.”
Sign the petition here.