Businesses in Watchetts Road Camberley have condemned the actions of vandals after a new pay and display station was vandalised twice in less than one month.
Watchetts Road Car Park is an important facility for local shops, residents and their visitors.
The two hour free period enables customers to visit the local shops free of charge, whilst low tariffs enable the management and upkeep of the car park by Surrey Heath Borough Council.
The new pay station had replaced two older machines previously vandalised beyond repair, resulting in the car park being full all day.
Installed in early June, the pay station was welcomed by businesses wanting to ensure available parking for their customers. It was first vandalised on the night of Monday 22 June. Following repairs by Surrey Heath Borough Council on Tuesday 23 June, it was vandalised again on the night of Sunday 28 June.
John Hatto of Hatto and Son Butchers, based on Frimley Road, said: “I would like to thank the parking team in their concerted effort to make the Watchetts Car Park available free of charge to our customers.
“Up until the machine was installed, the car park was nearly always full during the day and we were losing a lot of trade as our customers had nowhere to park. It was being used as a long term car park by some and a place to keep trade vehicles by others. The new pay station proved very successful until it was vandalised presumably by one of the people abusing it in the first place.”
Mr Hatto added: “Frimley Road remains one of the few areas with independent shops in the Camberley area. I cannot stress enough how important this car park is to our businesses.”
Surrey Heath Borough Council’s Executive Head of Business, Leigh Thornton, said: “The car park is essential to businesses by providing customers somewhere to park throughout the working day.
“It is believed the culprit is local and has a connection to the Watchetts area, having used the same method as previous acts of vandalism.
“We are appealing to eagle eyed members of the public who may have seen anything suspicious to report it to the Police.”
Surrey Heath Borough Council are looking at other measures to ensure the pay station remains operational. It now plans to install the Ring-Go system in the car park.
The Ring-Go pay-by-phone system will operate alongside the existing pay station. Should the pay station be vandalised or go out of operation, customers will have to contact Ring-Go in order to pay for their parking, including those staying less than two hours.