THERE are fears businesses could be hit after a supermarket banned cars from using its car park when it shuts at night.

Drivers were able to use Sainsbury's car park after the supermarket closed in the evenings.

But now signs have gone up warning motorists not to park there from ten minutes after the store shuts.

Paul Johnson is the steward of the Constitutional Club in nearby Great Square and says his members have used the car park for years.

"It's going to impact a lot of businesses," said Mr Johnson, who is also chairman of the town's Pubwatch scheme.

"They got rid of the car park between Manor Street and Victoria Street," he said.

"People won't be able to park to go to restaurants.

"There are a couple of disabled parking places on Bank Street but there is nowhere to park for anyone who is not disabled.

"The council says it is trying to make the High Street into a thriving place for business, but this is punishing all the public houses."

The town centre Tesco and George Yard car parks also close at night.     

Mr Johnson said: "Sainsbury's have put up cameras so you have to put your registration in, but at night they are not even giving you the opportunity to pay to park.

"It was well used. A lot of people going to the Chinese and Thai restaurants would use it.

"Places will go out of business because people can't park."

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said, "Our Braintree store offers customers free parking for up to three hours during opening times so that we can make sure spaces are available to our customers when they need them.

“There is also 10 minute parking limit outside of store hours and this information is displayed in the car park."

Braintree Council housing, assets and skill boss Kevin Bowers said the council is looking into the change.

He said: "As soon as the council became aware of the recent changes made to the free car parking at the Sainsbury’s store in Braintree town centre, we immediately contacted Sainsbury’s to discuss the significant change to parking arrangements.  

"Discussions are currently taking place and we will update residents as the situation develops."

UPDATE - Braintree Council has confirmed the new system has been scrapped.

Read the full story and update HERE.