Northern Ireland

Belfast carpark owners apologise to trapped motorists

Image caption Up to 50 vehicles were blocked in at the carpark on Wednesday

The owners of a south Belfast carpark have apologised after a number of motorists were trapped inside it on Wednesday.

The carpark, close to Donegall Pass police station, has no permanently marked out spaces.

As a result on Wednesday, up to 50 vehicles were blocked in for more than an hour when a car was parked across their route to the exit.

It was not until the company that owns the premises - Carpark Services Ltd - sent someone out to move one of the cars with trolley jacks, that the trapped drivers could make their escape.

Among the drivers who had a long wait to get out was BBC cameraman Martin Kellett.

"The carpark's not marked out at all, so it's a bit of a free for all," he said.

"The driver thought he saw a space, but what he saw was a thoroughfare, although it's not marked.

Image caption A car was moved using trolley jacks so other vehicles could leave

"The company sent someone round to assess it quite quickly, but by the time they sent someone round to move it it was about an hour and a half.

"People whose office backs on the the carpark said it happens quite often."

One of those stuck in the carpark was a woman who works with vulnerable adults.

Image caption One motorist left a note for staff at the carpark explaining that they were stuck

"We're supposed to be at work, we've got vulnerable adults to be supporting - we provide services for people with learning disabilities and we're trapped here and to be honest it's an absolute disgrace," she said.

"We need to get back to Antrim, we have a number of important appointments to be at."

Another woman, June Gamble said she had been waiting for about half an hour.

"We help out on a church babies and toddlers group so that's why there's a number of us here and now we're all blocked in because someone has just blocked the way out," she said.

Image caption The company that runs the carpark said that permanent markings are not possible due to its surface

"Somebody who overlooks it said they see this happen quite often but this is the worst today, he said he hasn't seen it quite so bad.

"It just takes one or two out of the middle row to move and we can get round the rest of the cars and get out. In the meantime we're stuck."

The owners of the carpark, Carpark Services Ltd, said: "Our patrol officer patrols the park on a regular basis and uses spray paint and cones to outline the sections, this rarely happens at this car park.

"Due to the type of surface in this carpark, permanent markings are not an option. The carpark is marked with spray paint on a regular basis, and cones are used to outline sections.

Image caption They said they take all the steps they can to prevent such an incident

"On this particular occasion it appears the cones were moved and unfortunately we do not have control over where vehicles park.

"We take all the steps we can to prevent this type of event happening.

"We would like to apologise to anyone who was delayed in their journey today due to this event and thank them for their patience while we dealt with the issue."

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