Reading Ikea: Four-hour car park delays

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Media captionHorns blast as shoppers are trapped in Ikea Reading car park

Shoppers were trapped for up to four hours as they tried to leave the UK's newest Ikea store on Sunday afternoon.

Customers took to social media to complain of gridlock at Ikea Reading during the first weekend of opening.

Peter Coe tweeted he was "stuck for 4 hours trying to get OUT of the car park! Nightmare!".

Store manager Johanna Heuren said a "traffic management plan" would remain in place while the cause of Sunday's delays was investigated.

Ms Heuren added: "The number of visitors to the store was in line with the previous busy days during the opening weekend where our traffic management plan worked efficiently as planned."

Image copyright @firthy76
Image caption Shoppers took to Twitter to complain about the delays as they were stuck for up to four hours.
Image copyright Jessica Sarson/Twitter
Image caption Ikea staff handed out water to shoppers as temperatures hit 25C

Stacey Barber, 22, from Farnborough, Hampshire, said: "We were stuck for three hours and we only went to return something."

Ms Barber added that staff handed out bottles of water but had "no idea what they were doing".

"People just kept beeping their cars to get attention but all we got from Ikea was 'sorry for the delay'."

Image copyright Twitter

Police were called to help with the traffic problems.

Thames Valley Police say officers: "Spoke with Ikea management and gave advice due to the impact on the local road network.

Adding: "Police have limited powers to direct traffic on the highway in the absence of an emergency or a traffic regulation order."

Luke Howarth, 28, was trying to get into the car park and told the BBC "Police were worried about the tailback from the Ikea car park going onto the main road.

"They blocked off the car park, and were directing people into a car park further away.

"I was stuck for about 25 minutes trying to get in. In the end I gave up and went to Sainsbury's instead."

'Hot weather'

Motorists had been warned to expect disruption and Ikea had put 40 "traffic guards" in place at the first store to open in the UK for seven years.

The retailer had spent £4m on new junctions and road widening and West Berkshire Council said it had spent £900,000 on the junction from the A4, which leads into the store, to "ensure traffic flows as smoothly as possible".

As temperatures reached 25C (77F), Anna McSherry from Wokingham told the BBC that stewards "let everyone on the top floor out first because of the hot weather".

Image copyright Ikea
Image caption The retailer has spent £4m on new junctions and road widening in a bid to improve access to the new store.

Others said Ikea staff were "absolute superstars" handing out water to drivers.

Helen Grant, wrote on Facebook: "Stuck in traffic coming out of Ikea Reading still in the car park, however your staff are doing a fab job trying to get it sorted".

The £10m store is said to have created 370 jobs, with 90% of people recruited locally, which the council described as "a real boost for the region".

Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, welcomed the creation of new jobs but said he had "longstanding concerns" - which he first expressed during planning - "about the likely impact of heavy traffic on local roads".

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