CHURCHILL Square has suspended late night parking - with customers frustrated over the handling of the change to opening hours.

One woman claims to have been unable to get her vehicle out of the shopping centre car park after the new times came into force last week.

People have been left confused with apparently contradictory information about opening hours available online.

While there are fears restaurants and theatres could lose business with drivers currently unable to collect their cars late into the evening.

At the moment, the car park is closed between 8pm and 8am each day, with members of the public claiming customer services told them this was due to lack of demand.

It was feared that this was a permanent change, with people on Facebook describing it as "ridiculous" and an "absolute disgrace".

Management at Churchill Square told The Argus that it is temporary and apologised for “any confusion”.

It is currently unclear how long the amended times will remain in place.

Yesterday, a photograph appeared on social media showing a poster explaining that the multi-storey carpark would close at 8pm before reopening at 8am each day.

The Argus: The picture of a poster in the carpark posted to Brighton People Facebook group.The picture of a poster in the carpark posted to Brighton People Facebook group.

No timeframe for this change could be seen in the image.

The picture was shared on the Brighton People Facebook group, with many expressing anger at the situation.

One said: "That is ridiculous. Will also affect theatre goers and people going out for dinner in Brighton. If I was a restaurant owner I wouldn't be too happy."

Another criticised the way the situation had been communicated, saying: "Just the other night my friend parked here at 7.55pm, no notice or info on the ticket barrier.

"Returned around 11.30pm, to see her car locked in and no access to it. A woman on her own with her safe mode of transport no longer available.

"She did get home safely but had a train fare and a £25 car parking charge the next day."

One called it an "absolute disgrace" and also spoke of the dangers of being unable to access transport.

He wrote: "This is extremely bad, someone driving on their own could be stranded in Brighton at night, not always easy for public transport if someone's come from somewhere where not easy for that, or a disabled person.

"Absolute disgrace, and it doesn't look like it obvious when entering apart from this small notice. Practically all other car parks let people take their car out after entering."

On the Churchill Square website, it currently advertises 24-hour car parking.

However, in a post responding to a question on Google from a member of the public, the shopping centre team said opening times changed around two years ago.

Until recently, drivers had to collect their cars by 12am.

Indeed, dedicated parking websites say that drivers have to be out by this time, and photographs from a year ago show signs in the car park advertising an evening tariff from 6pm to 12am.

However, under the amended times, cars currently have to be collected by 8pm.

One Facebook user also shared excerpts of messages under the post appearing to show customer service staff suggesting that there were no plans to reintroduce late night parking.

The Argus went to Churchill Square for clarification of the situation.

Centre director, Mark Buchanan Smith confirmed the change was due to maintenance works currently being carried out.

He told The Argus: "Starting last week and continuing into this week the car park is closed for essential maintenance from 8pm. We apologise for any confusion this has caused."

He added that this was not a permanent measure.

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