Nearly three months ago Rye News reported a row about the introduction of parking charges in the store car park at Jempson’s supermarket in Rye opposite the station. Jempson’s also manages the adjacent post office. This week Pay and Display parking was due to start at Jempsons on Wednesday, having been put back from Monday – and was apparently in use by Thursday, with very few cars in sight around 9 a.m.
The row on Jempsons’ own Facebook page led to Rye News seeking an interview with Stephen Jempson, which did not happen at the time, but he has now been interviewed by Kenneth Bird, three months later, just as the new parking charges are due to be introduced.
Mr Jempson claims in the interview that he has the “loyalty of customers” but that was not true when the row erupted last year on Facebook. October’s complaints about the Rye store included prices, the quality of goods, and the lack of Sunday opening, alongside queries about parking charges for people popping in for a single item (like cigarettes, a newspaper or the cash machine) or using the adjacent Post Office, also run by Jempson’s, which has a bus lay-by immediately outside it.
The interview does not answer a number of these points. For example Mr Jempson does not explain why he can charge for car parking on Sunday while he can not open his store for customers.
The car parking charges do not now apply to customers before 9am and after 4pm, but he has nothing to say about “pop-in shoppers” spending less than £5 between 9am and 4pm, or the Post Office customers – most of whom will be there during the normal daytime Post Office hours , though longer opening hours are being proposed for some Post Office items.
Also, while he says the store will be extended, it is also proposed that the Post Office be moved inside the supermarket, which may mean there is limited extra space for a wider range of goods.
Jempson’s store in Rye effectively has a monopoly, unless you have a car – and particularly after the cuts in bus services – so Rye News will be paying attention to the many and varied complaints, not just about prices (where independent checks will be made) but also about choice, quality, the range of goods and general service levels – the frequent breakdown of refrigeration units with puddles on the floor being an oft quoted example.