Organisers of a concert featuring girl band Little Mix which led to road chaos in Ardingly on Friday said today there would be no parking refunds.
Thousands attended the concert at the South of England Event centre and there were later complaints of gridlocked roads as cars queued to leave the venue.
Tempers flared and police stepped in when queues of traffic all tried to leave at the same time as the concert ended.
Many took to social media describing parking at the event as ‘chaos’ and complained that no traffic marshals were employed to help, despite a £10 parking fee.
One woman said: “It was a complete shambles - they were organised getting you in and charging you £10 but had no organisation getting out. There were at least 20 lines of cars trying to get into two lanes - there were three parking officials that were doing nothing. People were weaving in and out of moving cars - I have no idea how no one got run over.”
Another said: “Considering they were charging £10 per car for parking it would have been good to have a few marshals directing the traffic rather than leaving it as a free-for-all as people tried to get their kids home.”
In a statement today, Iain Nicol, director of South of England Event Centre, said: “We are sorry that some of the many thousands of visitors to the Little Mix concert were delayed leaving the showground after a superb concert.
“The South of England Event Centre was responsible for car parking and the car park was cleared within the two-hour period that we had expected.
“There were just over 3,000 cars parked in the South Car Park, and we were clearing 25 per minute. Understandably, people who have attended other shows at the venue may have had an expectation of being able to exit more quickly, but at a pop concert, everyone leaves at the same time which will naturally cause longer departure times.
“We regret that the exit experience marred the enjoyment of the evening for some visitors and will of course reflect on and review our traffic management plans for any future events. However, we will not be providing a refund for parking.
“As a first concert at the event centre with over 15,000 attending, there was a great atmosphere and people were clearly having a fantastic evening watching one of the world’s biggest bands. For those who have given their feedback to us, we are very grateful and will review all elements of the event as part of our de-brief with all the key stakeholders and associated authorities.
“We are aware that there was some traffic disruption caused by cars parking away from the showground. This was extremely regrettable, given that we had opened the showground for parking from 9am and also provided a free drop off car park.
“We considered the charge of £10 for the static parking on the showground as reasonable and in keeping with similar venues and events.”