A SUPERMARKET has introduced a charge for motorists who park at the store for more than three hours.

Bosses at Safeway in Grange Road, Darlington, want to deter people who park there all day while at work.

They say genuine shoppers are being denied spaces and as a result have introduced parking controls.

A parking attendant will patrol the car park and hand out notices to offending motorists.

Safeway spokesman Peter Sitch said: "We will register the numbers of all the vehicles parked in our car park.

"The operator will go round a bit like a council traffic warden and if you're parked there for more than three hours then you'll receive a letter saying if you do this again you'll receive a charge notice."

Anyone who oversteps the three-hour limit a second time, after receiving the initial letter, will be charged £40.

Mr Sitch stressed that the move is not intended to penalise the genuine customer.

Although he would prefer people to shop in Safeway, Mr Stitch said that three hours should be ample time for anyone wanting to also shop in Darlington town centre.

He added: "We estimate that three hours is more than sufficient for anyone to spend a comfortable amount of time in our store, go into town and even have a meal.

"It works in other places. Most people who get the letter don't do it again.

"We hope people will receive the first letter they get in the spirit it's intended and there will never be a need for the company to issue a charge notice."