FURIOUS bargain-hunters were left fuming after getting trapped inside a car park when a barrier failed.
Shoppers keen to make the most of the Next sale in Fareham Shopping Centre were up at the crack of dawn and many parked in the Market Quay car park from around 5am.
But when the car park barriers came down at 6am around 30 people were trapped as the exit system jammed.
Stuck shopper Debbie Pickering, 53, said: ‘I was so frustrated, I just wanted to get out. I’ve got a 12-year-old boy – I had to get back to him.’
It was a bitter blow for Debbie, of Elson, Gosport, as she didn’t even buy anything from the Fareham store on Saturday – and she got stuck in the same car park for the Next sale in 2012.
Back then she chased the council’s insurer for compensation but they told her it was a one-off error.
This year was all too familiar, with Debbie arriving at 6am when the barriers were down, getting a ticket and heading to the shops for 20 minutes.
She’d already been to the Whiteley Next sale before she got trapped. Debbie, who was with her partner and a friend, added: ‘I was none too pleased.
‘I went to Whiteley at 5am – as I turned up at 6am there were people trying to get out the barriers then.
‘The barrier was down – I pressed for a ticket and we popped into Next. We were in and out in 20 minutes. There were people trying to get out then.’
Irate drivers were pressing the intercom buzzers on the barrier and on the ticket machines in an effort to get out after the barriers had dropped.
This worked for a few people, with an out-of-hours worker letting them out.
But the sheer number of people pressing the buzzer jammed the system.
Pregnant Sarah, 26, of Gosport, was also stuck in the car park.
She said: ‘I’m not asking for compensation or anything like that – just annoyed about the lack of organisation of the council knowing people are going to park there early.’
But Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said the authority was not told about the early opening of the shopping centre.
He said: ‘Had we been advised we would have ensured that the barriers were raised to enable everyone to park free between 6pm and 8am.
‘I am sorry that people were inconvenienced and hope that we will be advised by the shopping centre management of any future early openings.’
Barriers will now drop at 7.30am when the council’s control room is staffed.