Angry drivers were let out for free at a Peterborough car park after hundreds of people were left queuing to use a single parking machine following a Broadway Theatre show.
The barriers at the Market Multi-Storey in Northminster were lifted on Saturday to allow people to leave without paying after theatre-goers were left queuing past the city market to pay their ticket fee of £1.50.
The chaotic scene was labelled an “embarrassment” and an “absolute disgrace” on what should have been a major occasion for the city, with the iconic theatre hosting its first production under its new management team with a live performance from the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Peterborough City Council said the fault lay with a security company it employs which locked the stairwells of the car park where all but one of the ticket machines are located.
The council’s CCTV operators then lifted the barrier when it saw the chaos that was taking place following the end of the show at approximately 9.30pm.
Chris-Shane Enright labelled the episode an “absolute disgrace” and told the Peterborough Telegraph that “elderly people were left standing around in unrealistic queues.”
He added: “An absolute embarrassment for Peterborough tonight with so many people coming from far and wide to see this performance.
“There were people holding the barriers up, letting cars through out of anger, and elderly (frail) people waiting outside the Broadway Theatre for their families to pick them up, completely unaware of the diabolical situation at Northminster.”
Liz Waterland said: “Chaos at the multi-storey car park as several hundred people queue for one parking machine.
“City council forced to cancel parking charges and raise barriers to let theatre-goers out.”
An irate caller to the PT, who did not wish to be named, said the show ended at 9.30pm and that he got away at around 10.20pm.
He added that people were queuing out of the car park.
A council spokeswoman said: “We apologise for the inconvenience caused to people using Northminster car park on Saturday night and are taking steps to ensure it does not happen again.
“We employ a security company to lock the doors to the stairwells of the car park each night, which is where the parking payment machines are located.
“Aware of the event at the Broadway we had previously asked the security firm to leave the stairwells open until 11pm.
“However, an oversight on the part of the security company meant this did not happen. As a result members of the public had use of just one machine.
“We are speaking to the security firm to gain assurances that an error like this will not happen again in the future.”
A spokesperson for the Broadway said it was contacted by the council for dates of shows, specifically regarding parking requirements, which it had provided.