In recent months, the club has received a lot of feedback regarding parking at and around the stadium. Last Monday’s extreme weather conditions led to longer than usual delays at Sussex University. These delays were largely caused by issues outside of the club’s control but they did highlight a number of ongoing issues with the use and management of our car parks which we have decided to address immediately.
Moving up to 30,000 people in and out of any football stadium in the country is a significant challenge. It’s no different at the Amex and it’s even more challenging for evening matches when people tend to arrive at the stadium later, leave immediately after the final whistle, and use their cars more with many people coming to the Amex directly from work.
At the Amex, we are, however, fortunate: the vast majority of our supporters take advantage of the excellent train and bus links to the stadium; many others use our park-and-ride services or travel to and from the stadium using the various Seagull Travel and supporter club coach services; and some supporters enjoy cycling to and from the stadium. In line with the conditions of our planning consent and to encourage sustainable transport methods, we will continue to prioritise these forms of travel.
We have also been monitoring car park movements throughout this season, particularly after the match. The club, along with the local authority's Safety Advisory Group, has become increasingly concerned at the increasing levels of frustration being expressed as motorists try to leave the Bennett’s Field car park –and the potential for a serious pedestrian accident as cars weave in and out of buses leaving and arriving at the stadium as well as pedestrians heading back to the university car parks.
We have recently witnessed several altercations between motorists, as well as our stewards being abused by supporters, which has even led to a physical assault. Most recently, there have been several near misses to pedestrians as vehicles have attempted or performed illegal manoeuvres to save just a few yards and a few minutes in a traffic queue. Thankfully, to date at least, nobody has been hurt.
Regardless, the risk of injury is increasing and the current position is not acceptable to many supporters or to the club. We have therefore decided to make some important and urgent changes to put safety first, prioritise the use of sustainable transport, speed up and tighten access to our car parks, re-organise car parking management arrangements in the car parks themselves, improve traffic flows away from the stadium after the match, and penalise illegal or inconsiderate parking,
So, with effect from our home match over the week-end of 8/9 March 2014, we will be implementing the following changes and measures to existing parking arrangements:
- Departure from the Amex of the club’s park-and-ride buses and supporter coaches will be prioritised immediately after the final whistle.
- As such, and in line with the majority of stadium car parks around the country, the club’s own Bennett’s Field and VIP car parks will be closed from the 70th minute of the match (for both weekday and weekend fixtures) until a minimum of 45 minutes after the final whistle (the club’s safety officer will authorise the opening of these car parks as soon after this point as he considers it safe to do so). We expect that, with the majority of buses and coaches clear by this time, traffic flows away from Bennett’s Field and VIP car parks will be considerably easier and faster.
- Access to the Sussex University car parks will change to enable those arriving earliest at the stadium access to the closest car parks (and therefore gain a faster exit from the stadium after the match). Stewards will show people to the nearest available space in the nearest available car park (NB our car park for disabled supporters at Sussex University – car park number 5 – will be unaffected by these changes).
- Neither Sussex University nor The Bridge car parks will be subject to any hold-back period after the match.
- Valid parking permits must be prominently displayed in all cars as the entrance to the car park is approached – and they must remain prominently displayed in the vehicle at all times while it is parked in the club’s various car parks.
- Failure to prominently display a valid parking permit prior to car park entry will result in the car being turned away. To minimise delays entering our car parks, there will be no exceptions to this rule.
- Supporters who have pre-booked parking should contact the club 24 hours BEFORE any given match if their permit hasn’t arrived. To speed up access to car parks, stewards will no longer hold lists of supporters who have booked parking spaces late. It is the responsibility of the supporter to hold and display a valid parking permit.
- Subject to final agreement with Sussex University, vehicles parked illegally or inappropriately (i.e. where a vehicle is parked outside of a marked bay or where it is parked across two bays), or where a valid pass is not prominently displayed will receive a fixed penalty notice.
- Vehicles parked illegally outside of designated car parks will be clamped or towed away.
- Vehicles attempting to stop, drop off or pick up supporters on Village Way will be moved on immediately and/or reported to the police for causing an obstruction.
- Any verbal abuse and/or physical assault of the club’s stewards or staff or fellow supporters will result in car parking permits being immediately withdrawn (without refund) and supporters may also be subject to a ban from attending matches at the Amex.
- Finally, during the summer of 2014, to further ease the current issues and improve safety, the club will also be looking to add a series of traffic calming measures to Bennett’s Field car park to stop queue jumping and improve the flow of traffic in and out of this facility.
1901 Club members who currently have confirmed spaces for Bennett’s Field but who wish to park at Sussex University car park for increased flexibility of departure times after the match may request a change to their permit for the remainder of the season – or permanently. However, such changes or requests cannot be made match by match. All changes are subject to availability in the University car park and will be managed on a first come, first served basis.
In summary, in managing large public events, there is only so much that the club can do to control travel-related issues, particularly in extreme weather. The measures we are adopting are designed to make arriving at and leaving our stadium safer and, ultimately, smoother for the majority of supporters. However, please note that the movement of 20,000 to 30,000 people within a short amount of time will always result in some delays.
The vast majority of supporters entering and leaving the Amex car parks do so with respect for fellow supporters, our staff and for the excellent facilities we provide, but please help our staff to ensure everyone enjoys the safest and smoothest travel experience by being considerate, patient and complying at all times with both our stewards’ requests and the law. Thank you very much for your co-operation.