Shoppers worry they will have to pay for parking

Upgrades to the parking facilities have made shoppers question whether management was indeed considering introducing a formal paid parking system..

The days of motorists rushing to secure a free parking space at the Kenilworth Centre might be numbered, especially if rumours that a formal parking system is on the cards are true.

Kenilworth Shopping Centre is one of the very few shopping centres to offer free parking, with malls such as Cavendish, Century City and N1 City charging for parking. You need only tip the car guard

Managing the centre is Redefine Properties, which remained tight-lipped, but according to their website: “The most important aspect of the upgrades so far have been the parking areas with new side parking decks commissioned and a pay-on-foot parking system implemented.”

Portfolio manager at Redefine, Terry Pollock, was adamant that “there is no story” to tell and hinted that discussions were still in the pipelines.

News surfaced when an angry shopper called the Tatler after raising the matter with management at the centre, when he initially claimed to notice some work being carried out in the parking lot.

Kenilworth resident Jacque Siljeur said he does not visit any other shopping mall other than Kenilworth Centre and the free parking was always the biggest hook. “I’d bring my family here every weekend and you see the amount of people flocking into this parking area. Management must have spotted a money-making opportunity here, because I can’t understand why after all these years, they would suddenly consider charging a fee,” he said.

Mr Siljeur said a manager he spoke to about his concerns did not reveal much, but hinted that paid parking might be on the cards.

“They did not deny and say it was untrue. In fact, they said to me that management was considering it and it was still being discussed. We can nip it in the bud right now, because this will end up making so many people unhappy,” he added.

Yvonne Kane from Rondebosch is another regular visitor at the centre and feared that so many would be affected by this move, especially pensioners and the car guards.

“During the week, you see plenty of pensioners pulling up at the centre, simply because of the free parking. If that is to change, this will have a negative impact on the centre, and I am not quite sure management is taking that into consideration. This should go beyond money, because there are some very loyal shoppers here,” Ms Kane said.

She said paid parking would also put the car guards out of work.

“There are so many negative things hinging on this. We understand that business is business, but surely, somebody has to raise the point of loyalty. What about KC’s most loyal shoppers, and is management not afraid of losing these shoppers?”

Adam Mitchell, an unemployed 27-year-old living on the streets, recently made KC’s parking lot his new work place. “Everyday is a hustle out here. I park a car, but who is to say that person will give me anything. This is the only thing that brings something for me, and if I lose this, it’s back to the start for me,” he said.

Mr Mitchell, formerly from Brackenfell, lost his parents in a fire seven years ago. He struggled to cope with their loss and ended up on drugs.

He spent six years in a juvenile detention centre in Brandvlei, before moving to town, in search of a job.

“I walk into a place, and you already see the person’s face changing.

“They think I want to rob them or beg for money, when all I want is to work for something. Even some of the shelters charge you for the night these days, so I must work and I park cars, that is my work,” Mr Mitchell said.

“KC must not be stupid, they going to lose a lot of people if the people must start paying for this parking.”

The Tatler sent a list of questions to the shopping centre management but they did not respond by the time this edition went to print.