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Lines of people in St Radigund's in Canterbury after Marlowe Theatre showing of War Horse

By Jack Dyson

Frustrated theatre-goers were forced to stand in the middle of the road in the "freezing cold" - just to queue to pay for parking.

Sue Cox left the Marlowe at about 10pm with her elderly parents following an evening performance of War Horse.

However, they were forced to wait for 30 minutes in the cold as they and several other members of the audience struggled to work the recently installed automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system in St Radigund’s.

Theatre-goers were queuing in St Radigund's after a showing at the Marlowe Theatre (8629746)
Theatre-goers were queuing in St Radigund's after a showing at the Marlowe Theatre (8629746)

“None of us knew how it worked,” Ms Cox said. “The queue was in the road – it was a health and safety issue.

“My 82-year-old mum and 87-year-old dad were standing outside in it with me because they didn’t want to leave me alone, but it meant they were out in the freezing cold.

“There was also a problem with the barrier not rising and that caused the cars to queue up as well. People would drive forward a few yards and it just wouldn’t open.”

Ms Cox, from Lyminge, believes signs and another payment machine should be installed at the car park to prevent large queues from forming.

Canterbury City Council and the Marlowe Theatre recommend signing up for an online account on the authority’s website to avoid the queues.

However, Ms Cox also argues that many people would prefer to pay with cash, rather than by card.

“These barriers are new to Canterbury and they’re making life very difficult,” she added.

“I did give the council my feedback and it said people queue up for hours outside the O2 to pay for their parking, so it’s okay for us.

“Pay and display was better because we didn’t queue to pay and we’d have all filtered out at our own pace and had our tickets paid for when we entered.”

John Baker from the Marlowe says the theatre is working closely with the city council to make customers aware of the new ANPR parking arrangements.

The authority’s spokesman Rob Davies says the new system has been an “overwhelming success”.

The Marlowe Theatre
The Marlowe Theatre

“We certainly wouldn't go back to pay and display just because on some occasions there is a short period of time where queues form at the end of a show at the Marlowe,” he continued.

“It is inevitable when a large venue such as The Marlowe empties that there will be some brief delays leaving the closest car parks.

“It happens at venues up and down the country, and happened before ANPR when traffic queued to leave the car parks and over The Causeway.”

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Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury.

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