The desperate posts on Facebook and emails to our mailbox continue from the many of you who have received fines for exceeding the free hour at the ground level parking at Sunbury Cross. The system across the two car parks is confusing, unjust and needs to be changed. As things stand you have one free hour at the surface level carpark and two free hours in the multi-storey. If you are going to exceed that then it really is worth paying the £1 which will give you peace of mind.
However, even that is not clear! What we have found out though is that even if you put in your £1 knowing you will exceed an hour, you only get your one free hour FROM the time you get your paid ticket. So, go shopping for 50 minutes and THEN pay your £1 and you will get a free hour plus a paid hour (but you still have the stress of remembering to do it). But if you pay on arrival, then you still only get one hour. That seems crazy!
Because the barrier on arrival was broken for 3 months before the introduction of the number-plate recognition system (which therefore needs no barrier), only the eagle eyed would have been aware that a new system was in place. You would just not look out for any changes. So many people were caught out, enriching the coffers of the parking company (not Sunbury Cross centre).
You DO still get two hours free in the multi-storey, which is now both clean and well lit so if in doubt, park there and walk down the stairs.
We urge management to either change the whole system to two hours free parking whether in the multi-storey or the ground level, OR to introduce a system of pay on exit, like many other shopping centres have, leaving customers to shop without stress for as long as they want before paying for the amount of time they have spent parked. Make it simple because it is anything but! Yes it may cost a bit to change the system, but consider the long term view. Shoppers will stay away (some already are). With falling custom, the shops will not survive. When they inevitably leave, that is a big amount of rent for the landlords to lose. We urge management to think longer term and make these necessary changes!
We bumped into Surrey County Councillor Alison Griffiths on a recent trip to Sunbury Cross (we chose not park to park in the carpark, if you want to know!) and she was furious about the current system. “Make it two hours free. There is no alternative solution!”.
There is a good selection of shops down there and remember, the shop keepers need your business. Bear in mind that other “free” car park facilities don’t even offer you an hour. Bunnings in Walton on Thames offers 30 minutes and I know of at least one local who was caught out only a couple of minutes over which cost him a fine.
Do keep shopping at the Cross but just be aware of these silly rules.
If you have been fined correctly or incorrectly, join the Sunbury Cross Parking Page on Facebook where you can share your experiences. You will find support and many who share your experiences.