SUN-SEEKERS enjoying the warm spring weather were stunned when an official locked them in a Gosport park.
Stanley Park was packed with people soaking up the sunshine when a council contractor told the park was closing at about 4.45pm.
The park’s three main gates were then locked to the public – leaving large groups of people stuck inside.
Many tried to climb over gates to get out – unaware that there was still an unlocked pedestrian gate left open next to the Alverbank Hotel.
Don Gordon, 85, from Solent Way in Alverstoke, was one of those who believed they were trapped inside.
‘Everyone was bewildered,’ he said. ‘They were amazed that it had closed.’
‘Young men were having to lift their bikes up over the gates. Many people were going to the three gates to try to get out. I found a side gate and was able to get out to the seafront.
‘The person who locked the gate seeing the number of people inside and playing games should never have locked them in.
‘Some of them were frightened. There was a complete lack of common sense on the part of the operator to lock it all up and lock everybody in.
‘Most people were on the green areas sunbathing and sipping drinks and playing ball games. People were angry and I can understand it.’
Gosport Borough Council said it would review the opening times of the park after the incident, which happened on Sunday just after the clocks had gone forward.
The park normally closes at 4.15pm between October and March, and at 8.15pm in the summer. But the council admits the good weather meant people wanted to stay for later than 4.15pm.
Samantha Voller, principal parks and landscape officer, said: ‘As part of the gate locking protocol the contractor notifies the public that gate locking is taking place.
‘The contractor drove through notifying the public within the park that locking was in process, and while undertaking this received abuse from the public and the vehicle was pelted with beer cans. It appears this problem has occurred due to the clocks going forward and the nice weather.
‘With park locking times not changing until April 1 and the nice weather this week we are leaving the park open for the week. We are reviewing locking times so they are less ambiguous in the future.’