SHOPPERS have been given a "slap in the face" by a Worcester supermarket which has decided to bring in car parking charges, according to a councillor.

Cllr Richard Udall, who represents St John's, says the decision to introduce charges to the car park at the Co-Op Food store at the Bull Ring is a "serious mistake".

The charges, to be introduced from July 15, will mean anyone parking in the shop car park will have to pay £1 for up to two hours parking with the first half an hour free.

Shoppers who spend £10 or more in-store will be refunded the cost of their parking.

Cllr Udall said that when the store was built in the 1970’s, the Co-op gave a commitment to the local community that the car park would remain free so customers could visit other shops in St John’s.

He said: "I know times have changed, and pressures on parking spaces have increased, but they have broken their word and it could have a serious impact on other retailers and for other local services in St John’s.

"I know many people who use the carpark to visit St John’s, to go to the local chemists, to specialist butchers, the post office, hairdressers and even the library, they spend time in the shopping area and use other shops, most also use the Co-op, but may not spend as much as £10.00.

"I suspect this has been imposed on to the store by management from afar, people who do not know St John’s, do not understand St John’s and are unaware of the history and the promises which have previously been made.

"The Co-op is a community retailer, owned by its customers, it is supposed to believe in community and ethical trading, this decision is a serious mistake, it undermines the core values of the co-operative movement and will damage their own business.

"They will lose a lot of local goodwill and support, they need to stop and think again."

It is understood that Co-Op stores only introduce parking charges when customers report struggling to park.

Where they do implement charges, they usually implement a grace period, such as the half an hour window that there will be in St John's.

A spokesperson for Co-op, said: “Managing car parking spaces is important. Some drivers - not always using the store – have been parking for long periods of time, making it difficult for our customers to find somewhere to park at times.

"Parking controls are set to be introduced from next month.

"These will continue to allow up to 30 minutes of free parking, and a £1 charge for parking for up to two hours will be fully redeemable against a minimum spend in-store.”