Up to 30 shoppers ‘locked inside’ Forest Gate car park

Motorists could not drive their vehicles out of the Forest Gate car park after it had been lcoked (P

Motorists could not drive their vehicles out of the Forest Gate car park after it had been lcoked (Pic credit:Tahir Ahmad) - Credit: Archant

A pregnant woman, a baby and a pensioner were among a group of people stranded in a Forest Gate car park for two hours last night.

Motorists were shocked to find that their vehicles had become locked in the Shaftesbury Road car park, after the gates were shut, by parking attendants at 9pm.

One driver, Tahir Ahmad, of East Ham, said he believed the car park was free to park in after 8pm.

However, a spokeswoman for Newham Council has claimed the gates have closed at 9pm everyday since 2011 and in recent week parking attendants “have taken the additional steps of warning visitors an hour before the car park closes.”

Mr Ahmad, who was with his wife and three children, including his 8-week-old son, said: “We all just felt like it was a huge scam. We felt like we were getting ripped off.

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“The signs showing the closing times were so small, I don’t think anyone would notice it.”

The father-of-three told the Recorder that he parked at the busy car park at 8pm to go shopping with his family in Green Street, ahead of the Eid festival this weekend.

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He returned just after 9pm to find that his car had been locked in.

Mr Ahmad, who works for Crossrail, said: “Shortly after we got there, a number of other families turned up too. I think there were between 20 and 30 people inside the carpark. I called the police and at first they said they couldn’t do anything to help.

“But soon after another driver got frustrated and tried to break open the lock and that is when the police turned up.”

Mr Ahmad added that, in the end, officers drove to the Newham council office in Dockside to get the keys of the carpark.

“I was lucky that I didn’t get a fine but most other people did. It was ridiculous. I park there all the time and have never heard of this happening,” Mr Ahmad said.

A spokeswoman for Newham Council said: “The operating hours of this car park have been in place since June 2011 and are clearly signposted around the car park. The car park is locked after operating hours but pedestrian access is maintained at all times.

“Last night the police were called to the car park as a number of people had ignored the signage and could not remove their vehicles from the car park.

“We will continue to review what additional measures can be introduced to ensure visitors and residents are aware of car park’s operating hours.”

Police confirmed they were called at 9.45pm.

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