Somerset Carnival Weston-super-Mare Tesco Carpark

Three of the floats from the Somerset Carnival Weston-super-Mare 2008

The carnival assembles in a large carpark off to the right of the photo, you can just see the entrance and the first part of it. When the carnival starts the assembled procession exits that carpark and turns right up towards the top of the photo. The carnival procession then turns left and travels along the main road at the top of the photo. After doing the circuit following the carnival route around the town, it returns to the carpark on the right, where it started, via the main road at the bottom of the photo. The Tesco carpark, pictured centre photo, is in an absolutely prime position both for parking and viewing, but Tesco will not currently allow people the use of it. As the carnival is an event we have been involved with, we wrote to find out why.

Letter 01

The Manager
Tesco Supermarket
Station Road
Avon BS23 1XG



Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to enquire as to why it is that Tesco currently appear to exhibit such an uncharitable attitude with regard to allowing public use of its car park during carnival night? When I enquired if it was ok to park in the car park, during last November’s carnival, I was told by door staff at closing time, that it was not allowed and that any vehicles still present two hours after the store had closed would incur a fine. This meant that it was not possible to use the facility, despite the fact that the store has a very reasonably sized car park in a prime location for this occasion. The use of the car park would greatly help to ease parking difficulties for visiting carnival supporters as well as helping to ease the strain on local side streets, making life a bit easier for the local residents who support the store throughout the year.

The carnival raises a fair amount of money for charitable causes each year and gives the thousands of people that support it a spectacular time. Many people throughout the course of the year contribute charitably, either financially, or with considerable amounts of their free time, in order that this event may be a success. Where is Tesco’s charity on this occasion if people are not even allowed to use the car park, something that would surely cost you nothing and yet would be such an immense help on the occasion? As the store closes at 5pm on carnival night, it would be really nice if you could see your way to allowing people to use the car park on this one evening a year without the threat of incurring a fine. I would ask, therefore, if it may be possible for you to please address this situation favourably in time for this year’s occasion, as I’m sure, this would be greatly appreciated by supporters and local people alike and would be a valuable contribution on behalf of Tesco. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
David J. Tarrant

Letter 01 Reply

3rd November 2009.

Dear Mr Tarrant,

Thank you for your letter dated 18th-October 2009 regarding the use of our car park on carnival night.

We do not allow customers or staff to use the car park on carnival night for several reasons. Firstly, the roads are closed at approx 6pm by the police as the carnival starts right opposite our car park entrance. I am sure you will understand that we have no control over this. Secondly, the route the carnival takes means that it would be impossible for people to remove their cars from the car park until the whole carnival procession has completed as again the roads surrounding our store are closed by the police. And thirdly, we have always allowed the carnival committee full use of our petrol forecourt on that evening for them to store and count the monies collected from various floats and walking collectors. If cars were exiting the car park during this time this would become a huge security issue for them as would finding another suitable location for them to do this.

As a company Tesco takes its corporate social responsibility seriously and doing our bit in the local community is very important to us. We support many local charities in various ways. The Tesco community programme focuses on supporting products and initiatives which give practical help to children, education, people with disabilities and the elderly in areas where we have stores.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to bring this matter to our attention and I do hope you can understand our reasons behind this decision.

Yours Sincerely
For and on behalf of Tesco Stores Ltd

Miles Kingsberry
Customer Service Manager.

Letter 02



Dear Mr Kingsbury,

Thank you very much for your reply to our enquiry regarding use of your car park on carnival night. We appreciate the reasons you put forward regarding the practical problems involved in allowing its use, however, we feel that they could be fairly easily overcome.

With regard to the first two points, if carnival supporters are there for the duration, which most are, arrive on time, and are parked in the car park on the understanding that the roads are closed until the event is over, there is no problem. Most people know that the roads are closed and that you cannot drive around until the carnival is over. People also know that if they need to get away for any reason, they cannot do so via the central area. Also, a simple notice, if at all deemed necessary, on the car park entrance stating that vehicles will not be able to leave until the carnival is over would also underline the point.

With regard to security and the garage forecourt, as you know full well, people can exit the car park without driving through the garage forecourt. An additional temporary barrier across the garage entrance would suffice to underline this fact. Also, there are so many carnival staff, security staff and police around on the night, it would make it very difficult for anyone to rob the proceedings. However, if anyone wanted to try, they could access the garage forecourt from the road anyway, although they might need a tipper truck and a JCB in order to get away with the amount of loose change involved. They would then have the problem of laundering the spoils. Not a very attractive proposition, one would think. Perhaps you could consult the carnival committee as to whether they themselves feel this would be an issue, bearing in mind that use of the car park could raise considerable additional revenue for the occasion?

We appreciate that use of the car park involves additional organisation, however, for a very small effort, organised use of the car park could add a considerable amount in donations to the overall collection pot. Other outlets do facilitate the use of their car parks for a donation. Sainsbury’s, in Bridgewater, for example, with a similar sized car park, collect over a thousand pounds for charity every year on this basis. Staff volunteers organise and manage the evening. They then advertise the result of their efforts on a chalkboard after the event so everyone knows what they have made. This year it was £1300.

Obviously, if you choose not to allow use of your facility, that is up to you. However, as you have a capacity for in excess of 300 cars, in such a prime spot, it still seems rather mean and a somewhat poor show that utilisation of the facility is not allowed. At a time when people are so short of parking and would really appreciate being able to use the car park, a little effort could be of great benefit all round. Perhaps, as I say, you could consult the carnival committee and see what they think? Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
David J. Tarrant

No reply received