"I don’t think we could identify another person in the neighbourhood that would be as well known and sad to lose."

That's the feeling around New Malden these days according to Nina Burich following news that the people who work as an attendants at the High Street Waitrose car park will be replaced by an ANPR camera.

She said it would be a shame to lose those has given so much to the town for nearly a decade-and-a-half.

"They have worked there a long time and really are a human face and added a heart to the high street," she said.

"I love the neighbourhood because of little things like a chat with the car park attendant but Waitrose will feel really hollow and commercial now."

A spokeswoman for Waitrose confirmed that the ANPR cameras would be coming in to place.

"We're sorry we've had to make these changes however some users have been exceeding the two hours free parking we provide and it's become increasingly challenging for us to manage," she said.

"This has resulted in it being difficult for our customers to find spaces because of the pressure our car park has come under, especially during busy trading periods, and we have needed to take steps to address this.

"The new system is designed to ensure we continue to look after our customers, while still providing free parking for other shoppers visiting the area."

Ms Burich said she spoke to one of the attendants earlier this week and felt "sad and disappointed" that this decision had been made.

"I understand the need, particularly where there are budget pressures for critical services, for automation or where this has a benefit to people," she said.

"I felt that the car park attendants are nearing a retirement age but that this will force them into this, potentially rather than making a more human decision to wait until they retire to automate."

It is believed that the attendants will be offered jobs elsewhere and Britannia Parking, who are in charge of the carpark, have been contacted for comment on this.