Parking prevention signs removed from outside convenience store and Chinese takeway

Signs stopping customers from parking outside a Dereham convenience store and Chinese takeaway have been removed for ethical reasons, it was claimed this week.

Norfolk Parking Enforcement (NPE) was brought in by the landlord of the One Stop building and Sunflower House in Norwich Road six months ago. Customers faced a �100 fine if they parked outside either business without the owner's permission.

Jonathan Lecaille, managing director of NPE, said it was decided last week that the Norwich-based company would pull out of the arrangement with Zevy Shainfeld, who runs London-based ZAS Investment. He said three people would receive letters informing them of a fine imminently, but if they contacted the company the charge would be cancelled. No other fines had been issued.

NPE works with more than 40 businesses in Norfolk, from corner shops upwards. Its original aim was to prevent people leaving their cars outside the store for several hours, according to Mr Lecaille.

The company rents out signs, carries out patrols in the protected parking area, gives out permits and issues parking fines, which go to the landowner, not NPE.

Mr Lecaille said: 'We want to protect the footfall for businesses so when customers want to use shops they have somewhere to park. As a company, we don't rely on the income from the money generated from issuing parking notices.

'While it was perfectly legal – because the landowner has the right (to control parking) – we felt it was unethical and damaging to our industry and our own business.

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'I felt extremely uncomfortable. I didn't think it was fair. I was watching people parking (via the CCTV images) and a little old lady pulled up to buy a paper and a pint of milk from a shop she might have used for seven years. I thought it was awful that a person could be charged �100 because they didn't read a sign.'

Initially, people were not able to park outside One Stop for more than 20 minutes; then the time limit was cut to 10 minutes, and six weeks ago the notices changed so no one could park near the store at any time.

NPE did not provide the CCTV camera, which was fitted two weeks ago.

Mr Lecaille said NPE became 'embroiled' in the dispute between One Stop and Mr Shainfeld, caused after the landowner allegedly demanded extra money from the business so its customers could use the parking spaces outside the shop.

He added that Mr Shainfeld said NPE should send out as many parking notices as possible each day.

'Mr Shainfeld is accusing me of bowing to local pressure. I'm bowing to my local business and local ethics. We (NPE) are about prevention and don't want to be used as a pawn in a commercial dispute,' Mr Lecaille said.

He added the arrangement had cost the NPE around �1,500 and some 5,000 vehicles were recorded on CCTV parking in the spaces around the businesses.

The Times has made several attempts to contact Mr Shainfeld, but he has not responded.