COUNTY NEWS: Anger as village '˜gridlocked' after Little Mix concert
A public outcry has erupted after a concert in Ardingly by the world's biggest girl band - Little Mix - led to traffic chaos in the village.
The girl band were at the South of England event centre as part of their Summer Shout Out tour on Friday. But tempers flared and police stepped in when queues of traffic all tried to leave at the same time as the concert ended.
And there was more anger today when concert organisers said there would be no refunds of £10 parking fees at the event.
One villager, who did not want to be named, said: “The whole of the village was gridlocked. There was a huge amount of anger and frustration and it seemed that they couldn’t cope with the situation.”
Meanwhile, people caught up in the queues took to Twitter to vent their feelings. One tweeted: “Absolutely terrible. Thousands of people with young children stranded for nearly 2 hours with no one in charge. Totally ruined concert.”
Another tweeted to Sussex Police: “anyone dealing with the traffic at ardingly tonight, thousands of cars stuck in car park. no cars moved for 1 hour. Help.”
And another: “Still here now over 1.5 hours with young kids, people getting very angry, arguements flaring up as people try to get out of this place.”
Sussex Police themselves replied: “We are aware and have traffic officers at scene, large number of vehicles trying to leave so will take some time unfortunately.”
Today, many took to social media again to complain at the lack of parking supervision and demanding the refund of parking charges.
One woman said: “It was a complete shambles - they were organised getting you in and charging you £10 but had no organisation getting out. There were at least 20 lines of cars trying to get into two lanes - there were three parking officials that were doing nothing. People were weaving in and out of moving cars - I have no idea how no one got run over.”
Another said: “Considering they were charging £10 per car for parking it would have been good to have a few marshals directing the traffic rather than leaving it as a free-for-all as people tried to get their kids home.”
In a statement today, Iain Nicol, director of South of England Event Centre, said: “We are sorry that some of the many thousands of visitors to the Little Mix concert were delayed leaving the showground after a superb concert.
“The South of England Event Centre was responsible for car parking and the car park was cleared within the two-hour period that we had expected.
“There were just over 3,000 cars parked in the South Car Park, and we were clearing 25 per minute. Understandably, people who have attended other shows at the venue may have had an expectation of being able to exit more quickly, but at a pop concert, everyone leaves at the same time which will naturally cause longer departure times.
“We regret that the exit experience marred the enjoyment of the evening for some visitors and will of course reflect on and review our traffic management plans for any future events. However, we will not be providing a refund for parking.
“As a first concert at the event centre with over 15,000 attending, there was a great atmosphere and people were clearly having a fantastic evening watching one of the world’s biggest bands. For those who have given their feedback to us, we are very grateful and will review all elements of the event as part of our de-brief with all the key stakeholders and associated authorities.
“We are aware that there was some traffic disruption caused by cars parking away from the showground. This was extremely regrettable, given that we had opened the showground for parking from 9am and also provided a free drop off car park.
“We considered the charge of £10 for the static parking on the showground as reasonable and in keeping with similar venues and events.”