Drivers warned after ‘£125 mistake’ sees vehicles locked in car park overnight

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Parking in major cities around the UK has often caught the ire of drivers with expensive charges, limited spaces and roadworks blocking access.

But, one unlucky driver had her car locked in a multi-storey parking structure because she did not leave with her vehicle before the 11.30pm closing time.

Dianne Bourne said she could see a small sign between the security grilles, informing her that Picadilly Gardens car park in Manchester would reopen at 5.30am.

A group of women from Leeds were also left stranded with their car locked inside, adding that everyone locked out was “shocked”.

It was claimed that there was nothing to indicate that the parking structure did not have 24-hour access, either on the inside or any signs on the exterior.

There is one poster which welcomes people to Picadilly Gardens Car Park and reminds drivers that they should park up and pay before they walk away, Manchester Evening News reported.

Ms Bourne was in Manchester to cover the Eurovision Song Contest and parked in the multi-storey car park as she knew the location and that she would be walking back after midnight.

The car park costs £20.20 to park for six hours, but Dianne chose to pay £25.50 allowing her to park for 24 hours.

There was reportedly an out-of-hours number on the wall which could have allowed them access to the car park, but no one picked up the other side of the call.

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Because of the disruption from rail strikes and expensive hotel rooms, the journalist had to book a taxi home, with it costing £85 because the M56 was closed due to road works.

Dianne Bourne said: “I then had to get a £15 train back to Manchester the following morning, with my face contorted into a twitching, bitter grimace the whole way. 

“So that’s £100 I shelled out, on top of the £25.50 charge for the parking itself.

“It was a costly mistake – and one I don’t want others to make. Yes, it was entirely my fault in not seeing the signs, but I can see how easily this can happen and I wonder exactly how many others fall foul of this.”

After contacting the local council, Dianne found that it was the only council-owned car park in Manchester city centre which closes overnight.

It added that there was “adequate signage” in the car park to let drivers know that it closes overnight, something which has been disputed in the past.

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council said: “In the past there have been concerns raised around anti-social behaviour taking place at this car park late at night and early in the morning. As a result the decision was taken to secure the building overnight to act as a deterrent. This has been the case for several years now.

“The Council offers the option for a motorist to pay for 24 hours of parking as the destination is popular for people visiting the city who may wish to leave their car overnight if they are staying in a hotel or nearby accommodation. 

“There is however clear signage near payment points as well as at the exits displaying the opening and closing times of the car park.”

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