Chaos at Welwyn Garden City car park

CONFUSION turned to anger as a new hi-tech car park payment system caused chaotic scenes and almost sparked a “riot”.

Queues formed at the pedestrian entrance to Hunters Bridge car park in Osborn Way, WGC, as motorists tried to get out last Wednesday, and the bewilderment continued into the weekend.

One woman claimed to have waited THREE HOURS to escape from the car park and another, Welham Green resident Liz Sheppard, said disgruntled drivers were “talking about rioting”.

She added: “It was just taking forever.”

Mrs Sheppard, of Huggins Lane, said she waited so long to pay for her ticket she went into a new time slot and ended up paying double to park.

WGC resident Eric Roseman told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “It’s ridiculous, there aren’t enough machines and this is Wednesday lunchtime, can you imagine what it’s going to be like on a Saturday?”

Mr Roseman’s fears were proved right according to William Perks who was visiting WGC from Biggleswade.

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He said: “Up to a 100 people, adults and children, waited in as attendents tried to explain how to work the new system.”

He added: “As you drive in hand written instructions try to tell you what to do they are pathetic and a child would have written them better, I and several others drove off in disgust.”

Another man said: “Hundreds of angry shoppers could not get their cars out.

“There was a near riot.”

Another man fumed: “I think it is absolutely outrageous what is going on here, especially right before Christmas.”

And another woman simply branded the farce “a complete cock-up”.

The new parking regime, which includes number plate recognition technology, was rolled out across the borough’s car parks throughout November.

Run by parking firm CP Plus on behalf of Welwyn Hatfield Council, its reported benefits include a variety of ways to pay – either at the pay station, or via phone, text or on the internet.

Commenting on the confusion, a council spokesman said: “As this system is new, it is likely to cause initial confusion as the car parks change but there is a large number of CP Plus staff on hand to help in the car park.

“The payment options give car park users a greater flexibility to pay, either in advance, at the time, or up until midnight that day, this is designed to cut congestion in the car parks.”

He added: “If there are any queries about the payment system or number plate recognition please ask a member of staff for guidance.”