SHOPPERS at Newton Abbot’s Asda store are hopping mad about the new parking regulations.

The town centre car park has always been a pay and display where shoppers could get a full refund provided they spent a tenner in the store.

The charge was to discourage non-shoppers parking there all day and to ensure there were spaces for customers.

All was well with this system until recently, when a new parking company took over and the rules changed.

Now customers have to input their vehicle’s number plate, and desired length of stay, meaning each transaction takes a little bit longer, adding to waiting times.

Blue Badge holders also have to register their vehicle by queuing up at the Customer Services desk within the store the first time they park there – a requirement believed to be unique in Newton Abbot. Number plate cameras have also been installed.

Since then social media and this paper’s letters pages have told stories of long queues and parking fines. Complaints about an over-complicated system have even led to some customers threatening to boycott the store.

Visitors to the store last week would have witnessed a long queue of fed-up shoppers at the main car park’s only working meter, with some people struggling to remember their vehicle number. Mums with buggies were waiting patiently, their charges less so.

One man said: ‘It’s very complicated now. It used to be you’d put your pound coin in and that was it.

‘This new system takes too much time. Someone in front of me couldn’t remember their number plate and had to send their daughter back to find it.’

Another shopper said: I’ve been waiting here more than 10 minutes now. My wife has gone into the store ahead of me just to save time. She’ll probably be out before I’ve even got my ticket!’

And one shopper declared: ‘If Buddy the Elf wanted to park Santa’s sleigh here he’d be confused!’

Shortly after that the covers went on the remaining machine, possibly to assuage angry shoppers.

A spokesman for Asda said: ‘Our car park at Newton Abbot has always been a paid for car park.

‘Recently the parking machines at the car park have been out of service, encouraging more people to use the car park free of charge.

‘The new system has been introduced following complaints from customers about the car park being misused.

‘The car park will be monitored by Parking Eye cameras, and they may hand out fines to those using the car park beyond the three-hour time limit.

‘Blue badge holders are required to register their car reg so it can be added to the system. They only have to do this once and that will stop the ANPR issuing a ticket for non-payment.’

The spokesman continued:‘Following feedback from customers we’ve implemented cameras and new parking machines to prevent our Newton Abbot store car park from being misused.

‘Customers who spend over £10 in store can still park there free of charge for up to three hours, by claiming the cost back in store.’

Hearing that, one shopper said: ‘If Asda are saying they consulted us, well they didn’t consult me! There used to be four machines in this car car.

‘Now there’s two and today there’s just one This is getting ridiculous.’

The spokesman for Asda added the new system was set up ‘following reports of misuse, and to ensure Asda customers can continue to use the car park to do their shopping’.

He went on to say the new system is being kept under review, and there are plans to install two more machines.