AN evening in Boscombe turned sour for a group of concert-goers when they found their cars trapped in a shopping centre car park.

Nigel and Jan Oates, of Ophir Road in Charminster, were one of five families who had to pay £30 each to have their cars released from the Sovereign Centre car park.

They were attending a children’s dance show at the nearby O2 and parked on level one of the Sovereign Centre car park.

A sign stated the gates to levels one, two and three would be locked at 6pm but as it was 7.13pm and the gates were open with other cars parked there, they assumed the sign referred to access to the Sovereign Centre.

When they returned to their car at 10.45pm, the access gates were locked leaving them and four others trapped in the car park.

They had to call a security guard out who charged them £30 per car to open the gate.

After being made aware of the complaints, car park managers Britannia Parking offered to refund the affected motorists and said it was unfortunate the gate was not shut at 6pm, in line with their policy.

Mrs Oates, 60, said: “It totally spoilt our evening and if I had been on my own, I would have been very scared. It’s not a nice place to be on your own at 10.45 at night.

“They are trying to get people to visit Boscombe but this is no way to welcome people.”

A spokesperson for the Sovereign Centre said: “Britannia Parking manage the car park and have informed us they intend to fully compensate those affected.

"We are working with them to remedy these issues.

“We appreciate customer frustrations and apologise for the inconvenience caused.

"We value our customers and hope they will continue to visit the Sovereign Shopping Centre in the future and attend the exciting events we hold for the whole community.”