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Visitors locked in Crowborough Country Park car park forced to spent the night

By Sussex Courier  |  Posted: October 26, 2012

  • AUTO DEFEAT: Simon Chandler (left) and Lewis Behan (right) had to sleep in their car overnight after it was locked in a car park TWPL20121024A-001_C

  • LOCK-IN: Crowborough Country Park's car park, off Osbourne Road

  • UNCLEAR: The entrance to the car park, with its small sign

  • Simon Chandler (lleft) and Lewis Behan (right) from Rochester had to sleep in thier car overnight after it was locked into a council run car park in Crowbrough.

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TWO visitors to Crowborough were forced to spend a cold night in their car after a car park was locked while they were enjoying a town beauty spot.

Amateur filmmaker Lewis Behan called for Crowborough Town Council to rethink its out-of-hours response after he and pal Simon Chandler found themselves stranded on Sunday.

The 24-year-olds had driven to Crowborough Country Park from Rochester to film in the woods off Osbourne Road. But when they returned to their car they found the exit had been locked.

Astonished, Mr Behan said: "It closed at 3.30pm. It's ridiculous."

The winter lock-in time is posted on a small sign 7ft high on the entrance gate but is not marked in the car park itself.

Mr Behan said: "We got there at 2pm and didn't see the tiny sign. We got back to the car at 5pm and couldn't get out."

Over the course of several hours, he and Mr Chandler attempted to contact landowner Crowborough Town Council, and also Wealden District Council, East Sussex County Council and Sussex Police.

No-one came to free them so, with no money for food or a room, the pair bunkered down in Mr Chandler's Ford Focus, with £3,000 of camera equipment taking up valuable space in the back seats and boot.

Mr Behan added: "I understand they have to lock up but whoever did must have seen the car there. They didn't need to come shouting into the woods but why not put a note on there saying 'call this number when you get back?'"

Mr Behan and his friends often film spoof scenes from video games such as Metal Gear Solid. The woods and The Ghyll in Crowborough made it an ideal location, he said.

"But they really need a new sign," he added.

"Every single car park I've seen before has an emergency number. When I called the town council it went through to their answerphone which said it was out-of-hours.

"I rang the non-emergency number for the police to see if they knew someone we could contact. But they said they couldn't get someone as it wasn't life or death.

"I didn't want to call 999 and waste people's time but I was getting very annoyed."

Temperatures had dropped to single figures before they were released at 8am on Monday.

"This person turned up and said 'oh, were you locked in?'" said Mr Behan.

"What if I was an old lady stuck here or Simon, who works in Erith, had be at work early?"

Town council environment committee member Councillor David Shaw sympathised with Mr Behan's plight.

"It's a shame he wasn't local as they tend to walk or know the times," he said.

"At Wolfe Recreation Ground the hockey and cricket club guys have to move their cars if they stay late.

"Bigger signs, an emergency number or perhaps leaving a key with the people living in the houses next door are things for us to think about."

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  • SCNomad  |  October 31 2012, 12:40PM

    Does no one take any responsibility for their own actions any more? The sign on the thrid picture looks pretty clear to me and given that 'every single car park he's seen before has an emergency number' he must normally be pretty good at hunting out car park signs! The entrance of a car park does seem the most sensible place to put a sign with the opening times after all.

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  • MrSwing  |  October 27 2012, 12:56PM

    Why dont they just put a note on any car still there after the car park is locked with the number of the person who has the key. Is that too complicated-obviously it is for the unlelected idiots of the council.

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  • Digibee  |  October 27 2012, 10:39AM

    That was me. Not sure the council thought of me as a lady after I sawed their gate open.

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  • shooter73  |  October 26 2012, 3:11PM

    Surely when they applied to the council for the proper permit to film in the reserve and paid the required filming permit fee, they were told of the opening hours? Oh, hold on...

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  • wildgeeza  |  October 26 2012, 11:46AM

    I remember this happening a couple of years ago... with a (not so old) lady. She promptly came back with a friend and a saw... http://tinyurl.com/c9utsx9

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