Supermarkets are facing increasing pressure from local traders and residents over strict parking penalties at stores after both Tesco and Asda admitted flaws in their charges.

Tesco has been forced to do a u-turn over newly imposed time restrictions at its store in Ware, Hertfordshire, after it was found to be breaking the terms of its lease with East Hertfordshire Council, which owns part of the car park.

Its 90-minute maximum stay policy has been scrapped in favour of a two-hour limit after council members discovered a clause in the lease stipulating that shoppers did not have to visit the store to park there and that it must allow shoppers a reasonable amount of time to visit other local businesses.

It follows a petition signed by 18 local traders, which prompted investigation by the council (The Grocer, April 1, p19).

Traders had blamed the retailer's "draconian" parking restrictions, and £70 penalty fine, for a recent slump in business. One local trader said: "This is definitely a victory for small traders against Tesco."

Meanwhile, Asda shoppers in Telford, Shropshire, are voting with their feet after parking charges in Asda's council-owned car park were increased by £1.50, prompting customers to change allegiance to a neighbourhing Asda store in Donnington, which offers free parking.

Telford store manager Steve Sproson said that the branch had been "badly affected" , adding that customer numbers were significantly lower than last year. David Simmons, events co-ordinator at the Donnington branch, estimated that footfall at his store was up by about 4,000 since the charges were imposed.