Councillor criticises plans to install number plate recognition cameras at Waitrose car park in Ely as ‘a money making operation’

Typical ANPR camera post with cameras

Typical ANPR camera post with cameras - Credit: Archant

A councillor criticised plans to install automatic number plate recognition cameras at Waitrose car park in Ely as “a money making operation”.

The proposals, put forward to East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) by The John Lewis Partnership, would see two ANPR cameras installed on a single post to cover both entrance and exit lanes.

But Councillor Bill Hunt says he is concerned by the proposals.

He said: “This parking area is an important part of the ‘offer’ that is Ely and I have some serious concerns.

“Currently ECDC and Waitrose (Ely branch) have a humane and flexible approach to the running of this car park which is of course part of Ely’s front line.

“I hear the march of the computers as Britannia Parking ‘book’ visitors who stay for two hours and one minute and catching the motorists becomes a money making operation.

“I see a rise of complaints and the loss of some of the ‘open for business’ image we stand for.

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“Once installed, will the cameras work 24/7? And is it planned to alter the current parking time regime or any other details?” he added.

“As far as I can see, this affects all the villages that use Ely as their shopping ‘hub’. Members and parish councils such as Littleport, Sutton and Haddenham should, in my view, be consulted.

“I know that Waitrose own the site but we do want visitors to return to Ely time and time again.”

A spokesman for the partnership says the cameras would provide “good surveillance” and improve security.

“The new ANPR post and cameras will have the principal benefit to Waitrose customers and public users of the parking facility,” it says in a statement to planners.

It will improve security with the car park “as well as adding to the efficiency of the management of the car park usage”.

The statement adds: “We believe the new post will be in keeping with the surrounding site furniture in terms of scale and colour and will help to enhance and modernise this existing car park area.”

Councillor Lorna Dupre said it would be “interesting” for the proposals to go ahead “as there are free alternatives.

She said: “If Waitrose were to introduce parking charges, that would presumably put even more pressure on the council car parks at St Mary’s Street, Barton Road, Ship Lane, and the Forehill, as well as the Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Aldi supermarket car parks.

“And Thursdays and Saturdays would be even more intolerable.”

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