TOWN centre bosses today said ‘we are sorry’ to furious shoppers forced to queue for hours as a new parking system caused havoc in the run-up to Christmas.
Long lines of customers snaked around The Octagon shopping centre and outside Asda supermarket yesterday as the launch of the new car park system turned people from Santas to Scrooges, with festive cheer quickly evaporating.
The situation was further compounded when shoppers were forced to sit and wait in massive queues of traffic after they finally managed to pay and attempted to exit the Orchard Street car park.
Peter Hardingham, Octagon centre manager, offered an “unreserved apology” to customers following a day of chaos.
He told the Mail: “I would like to offer our customers a big apology for the issues that arose during the launch of the new parking system.
“There was simply no excuse for the issues that they faced and we are very, very sorry.
“As we prepared to install the new system on Monday night, a technical issue was uncovered, which severely hampered the launch.
“The matter is being worked on and we expect to be fixed at some point today.
“I would like to tell shoppers that this is very similar to the old parking system, the only difference is that there are no tickets.
“When shoppers drive in to the car park, a camera takes a picture of their registration plate.
“They then go off to do their shopping and when they are ready to leave, type in their number plate and pay the required amount.
“If they do not pay, they will not be allowed to leave the car park until they have. Drivers will not be fined as a result of this system.”
Nicola Ellis, from Branston, contacted the Mail while she was still standing in the queue to pay – 45 minutes after she joined it.
She said: “It was an absolute joke. I was in the queue for nearly an hour.
“Arguments were breaking out as people waited, tempers flared and it was a complete disaster, especially at the busiest shopping time of the year.”
This comes months after a new parking system was put into place at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital, which caused chaos.