Christmas traffic blocked for up to six hours as shoppers stuck at Bluewater
Last-minute Christmas shoppers were left stranded for hours after heavy traffic blocked car park exits at Bluewater Shopping Centre.
Police were called to help clear the backlog when a broken down vehicle and high visitor numbers caused traffic chaos at the Kent shopping complex.
Visitors took to social media to vent their frustration with some reporting delays of up to six hours.
Chris Clarke (@theclarkemaster) said he first tried to leave at 3.10pm but gave up after making little progress.
He eventually managed to exit at 9.35pm, tweeting: "After 6 hour delay in the #bluewater carpark. Finally on the move!"
Emma Mulcrow (@EmmieLouX) said it had taken over two hours to leave Bluewater and 90 minutes alone to leave the car park.
Another user, Sarah (@Esteetee) tweeted: "Left John L's 2hrs ago & have travelled abt 150m in Bluewater traffic."
A spokesman for Kent Police said: "A broken down vehicle and the sheer volume of traffic at Bluewater last night caused delays to people trying to exit the shopping centre car parks.
"Local officers attended and directed traffic to help clear the backlog and the traffic is now running freely."
A spokeswoman for Bluewater said the shopping centre worked hard to keep traffic to a minimum.
She said: "While the traffic in surrounding areas, including the M25, is out of Bluewater's control, we have a dedicated team who work closely with organisations such as Kent Police and Highways England, to minimise traffic congestion at peak times.
"This includes deploying additional hosts in our car parks to help guests find spaces, as well as implementing traffic controls on surrounding roads. In addition, our extended opening hours provide guests with the greatest possible amount of time to visit Bluewater, which helps to reduce traffic on surrounding roads."