Christmas shoppers have complained of an “emergency situation” in the Sainsbury’s car park at Castle Court on Monday (December 19), with “gridlocked traffic” creating queues of up to “an hour long”. Several posts on social media have criticised the store’s “poor management of the traffic” however, in response to the complaints, Sainsbury’s told Bristol Live the congestion was due to “roadworks and closures in the surrounding area.”
Many of those shoppers affected took to social media yesterday to complain about the queues and the stores handling of the traffic. At 1.49 pm, one customer described the scene on Twitter as an “emergency situation” and complained to Sainsbury’s that “No one can get out or in and there no staff out here to sort the situation.”
After the store replied that it was “terribly sorry about the situation at the store”, the customer contended, “I’ve been stuck here for over an hour and a half, seen two fights almost break out. This is a potentially volatile and dangerous situation. There’s no way in or out. There should be another route out of this car park.”
Half an hour later, another customer tweeted Sainsbury’s asking, ” Any idea why the traffic is gridlocked castle court, my wife has been trying to leave the car park for an hour, but nothing is moving?” A store representative responded on Twitter, claiming that the chaos was being caused by the closure of Totterdown bridge, around a mile away from the car park, resulting in “a large amount of traffic on the main road.”
Road works on Totterdown Bridge began on December 17 to repair a gas escape and are being undertaken by Wales and West Utility. The work was due to complete on December 23, but are currently ahead of schedule.
Chris Mutlow, Wales & West Utilities Gas Emergency Service Manager for Bristol, told Bristol Live, “We were called to reports of a gas leak in the Totterdown Bridge area of Bristol on Saturday. On arrival, we found a leak on the gas pipe running beneath the road and began work to make a repair.
“As a precaution, the emergency services had closed Totterdown Bridge at its junctions with Albert Road and Bath Road. In order to repair this leak, and to keep the local community, road users and our colleagues safe, we maintained this road closure while we worked. A diversion route is in place and traffic is flowing freely on either side of the road closure.
“Our engineers have worked as safely and as quickly as possible and have fixed the leak. We now need to fill in the holes that we had dug and give the new road surface time to set, and so will need to keep the road closure in place. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we aim to fully reopen the road tomorrow (December 21). “
Many of those stuck in the lengthy jams at the Sainsbury’s car park are sceptical about the suggestion that the roadworks were the cause of the delays.
One customer who had the same issue with gridlock in the car park on Sunday afternoon Tweeted, “Just got home after over an hour stuck in the car park very poorly managed by the management took them way to long to get a handle of the situation then try to blame weight of traffic which was free-flowing once I managed to leave.”
On Facebook, a commenter who claims they were stuck for three hours said the congestion was “nothing to do with” the Totterdown bridge closure and that the traffic was “fine once out of the car park.” Another user suggested the problems were related to “traffic queuing to turn left at the lights by Burger King. They only leave enough time for 3/4 cars through. This causes a massive backlog.”
Others have been critical of the store’s unwillingness to step in. One Twitter user said, “I’ve mentioned inside, and no one cared. an someone come direct some traffic. No one can get in or out.” A Facebook user had the same experience saying, “Staff, we’e not interested in helping when first went in and said something about the issue.”
A Facebook user claimed they heard a discussion between store staff complaining of “anti-social behaviour” to two police officers who were buying their lunch.
The situation was so bad some shoppers ditched their plans to go to the store while others were even leving their cars. One Facebook commenter wrote, “I had to abandon the car twice. Unable to get out first time, went back an hour later and still the same, so walked home again. Finally picked the car up, but now worried I’m going to get a fine for being there so long.”