Drivers abandon cars at Manchester's Arndale after queueing to leave for four hours
Drivers who were left trapped inside a shopping centre for nearly four hours say they were forced to abandon their cars to go and get food, and even call the police.
Cars were caught up the queues at the Arndale in Manchester late on Saturday, 19 November, afternoon, when both the Christmas Markets and the Rugby League World Cup final were underway.
The longest wait reported was three hours and 45 minutes.
Gulshan Blanton, who was in that vehicle, said: "I do not think that’s the very worst. It was very ridiculous.
"I do not think I will be coming back this side of Christmas."
Another driver, who had two young children with him in the car, 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.
"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 continued: "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.
"It became very uncomfortable."
Horns sounded as drivers grew increasingly angry about the queue
It has prompted a wave of complaints that the give-way exits for the car park onto the High Street are not sufficient.
The driver added: "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."
Transport for Greater Manchester said it does 'tweak' traffic light timings to help flows when the city centre gets busy, but also appealed to visitors to make their way into town on public transport.
The organisation’s head of highways, Peter Boulton, 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 owns and manages 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 (Penalty Charge Notice) as a result of the congestion whilst exiting the car park they will be able to appeal the notice in line with council policy."
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...