Man calls 999 as furious drivers blast horns during ‘four hour wait’ to leave car park

Drivers were left stranded inside an Arndale car park for almost four hours on Saturday, and now want officials to radically rethink roads in the area.

Several visitors to Manchester city centre say they were stuck in their cars whilst trying to leave level 12 of the cark park on Saturday afternoon.

The Christmas Markets and Rugby League World Cup final were taking place in Manchester, so there was plenty of congestion on the roads.

The longest wait being at the Arndale car park is three hours and 45 minutes.

Different motorists said they had waited for more than three hours, which prompted several complaints that give-way exits for the car park to the street were not adequate to let motorists exit the multi-storey building.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Gulshan Blanton said: “I was stuck for three hours and 45 minutes.

“I do not think that’s the very worst. It was very ridiculous. We just went in for the Christmas Markets.

“We had come from Winsford, and it was just nuts. I do not think I will be coming back this side of Christmas. It was not a good experience at all.

“After about two-and-a-half hours, people started beeping their horns which was not pleasant.”

Another driver, visiting from Worsley in Salford, had two young children with him in the car.

The dad, who asked to not be named, said: “My daughter had a children’s birthday party in the city centre. We got back to the car at around 4.45pm.

“Then we went to drive out and we got about 10 yards and we were in a queue. We were on level 12 — you sit there for 10 minutes and you think it should not take this long. Time was ticking along and then it was about 7.10pm when we got to level 11 — so it took two-and-a-half hours to go down one level.”

He was stuck for three hours and 20 minutes, but said the experience was ‘very uncomfortable’.

He went on: “I ended up phoning the police to ask if there was a problem and to share information that there were more than 400 people trying to get out. People started abandoning their cars in the queue to get food.

“People were shouting and swearing and it all descended into chaos. The horns were constant. I could not leave the car because the children would have been on their own and they are too young to do that.

“I did not want to leave together [with the children] because then I would be the one blocking the traffic. It became very uncomfortable.”

The driver has now called on TfGM and Manchester City Council to re-examine how they control traffic at peak times.

He explained: “They need to look at the traffic light sequencing on the traffic lights and the flow of traffic [out of the car park]. They have the data on the exit times so there’s no reason not to change the lights.

“I would never use that car park again, ever. It’s disgusting. They have a duty of care. It’s such a simple thing. They know there’s a problem, the MEN has reported on it a year ago. They can do something about it.

“The advert it creates for people outside the city is appalling. It’s actually a great advert for the Trafford Centre. Nobody should be paying for that privilege, and they should be monitoring it and if there’s a problem — so what are the measures to help?”

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says it does ‘tweak’ traffic light timings to help flows when the city centre gets busy, but has also appealed to visitors to make their way into town on public transport.

In response to the concerns, TfGM said it was ‘monitoring traffic movement’ over the weekend, and made ‘tweaks to assist with traffic flows where we could’.

The organisation’s head of highways, Peter Boulton, also advised visitors to plan well ahead.

In a statement, he said: “Manchester is a top destination and with a number of events and the Christmas markets adding to the usual retail and leisure offering, the last couple of weekends have seen increased numbers of people travelling into the city centre by both car and public transport.

“We’d encourage anyone coming to Manchester to think about how they are going to get in, around and out of the city and to plan their journey in advance, avoiding the busiest times and routes where possible.”

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council, which own and manage the car park, added: “The Council is sympathetic to drivers who were caught in congestion while trying to leave the car park, however, the circumstances which caused delays were outside the Council’s control, therefore purchased tickets will still be valid.

“If a driver is issued with a PCN as a result of the congestion whilst exiting the car park they will be able to appeal the notice in-line with Council policy.”