Fringe Box



Infirm Couple ‘Imprisoned’ In Tunsgate for Three Hours Before Council Permits Barrier To Be Unlocked

Published on: 18 Sep, 2018
Updated on: 19 Sep, 2018

Anthony and Clare Cox waiting for their release from Tunsgate.

An elderly, infirm couple were trapped in Tunsgate today (September 18, 2018) when the barrier was locked at 11am despite them displaying a blue badge in their car.

Anthony and Clare Cox, 76 and 73 respectively, were unable to leave for three hours despite reporting that they were feeling increasingly unwell because they needed to take medication.

The couple who Anthony himself described as “decrepit and very infirm” had parked outside Cry for the Moon jewellers, as they have on many occasions, before to go shopping nearby in the High Street.

The new parking restriction sign in Tunsgate.

Anthony said: “I did not see the new notice about the change in parking restrictions and I displayed our blue badge as I always do. My wife is designated as an MS sufferer and also has very bad arthritis in both legs. She is awaiting an operation.

”I am also fairly disabled. I am receiving chemotherapy and am awaiting a knee joint replacement.”

“I can’t understand why someone, knowing what had happened, could not simply apply common sense and get the barrier unlocked but a very bureaucratic process was gone through with the buck being passed several times between Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council. It seems responsibility for controlling access passes between them at different times of the day.

“We were passed from pillar to post, talking to different people on the phone, while the barrier remained locked.

“One even claimed the problem had been caused because we had not displayed our blue badge. This was untrue and we had a witness who had seen it. Another inconsiderately suggested we should get a taxi home but we completely rely on our car for mobility.”

“Eventually, after 2pm, I told a council officer on the phone, I spoke to so many I am not sure which council they worked for, that my wife and I were feeling increasingly unwell and would have to call 999.

Three hours later the barrier unlocked, allowing the Coxs to leave. In the background one of the Guildford rangers who had tried to help resolve the situation.

“Miraculously 15 minutes later a reluctant, smirking attendant unlocked the barrier.”

Merrow residents Mr and Mrs Cox now intend to take the matter up with their local borough and county councillor, Graham Ellwood, and they are even considering taking legal action against those responsible for “unlawful imprisonment”.

Mr Cox added: “I would hate anyone else to have to go through what we went through today.”

Ben Darnton who witnessed the incident from his shop, Ben’s records, at the Sydenham Road end of Tunsgate, said: “I wonder if emergency services would have had to wait so long for the barrier to be unlocked?

“A lot of Tunsgate shops, who were not compensated for loss of trade, are eager to get their businesses back on track after the long-delayed reopening of Tunsgate Quarter and the closure of the road for six months longer than originally stated, so the rather belligerent attitude of the “jobsworth” wardens is especially counterproductive at this time.”

Guildford Borough Council and Cllr Ellwood have been invited to comment.

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Responses to Infirm Couple ‘Imprisoned’ In Tunsgate for Three Hours Before Council Permits Barrier To Be Unlocked

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    September 18, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    I cannot understand why this was ever made a pedestrian area.

    It now is difficult to gain access to the Guildhall when the High Street has been closed.

    We still are not told what the final cost of this project is to the council tax payer.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    September 18, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    There is only one comment fit for purpose here, Victor Meldrew’s stock phrase: “I just don’t believe it!”

    Serious disability awareness education should be given to all staff who allowed this to occur.

  3. John Powell Reply

    September 19, 2018 at 9:10 am

    The only way they are going to make Tunsgate Quarter work is to lock shoppers inside.

  4. Liz Critchfield Reply

    September 19, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Is this modal shift in action?

  5. Adam Aaronson Reply

    September 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    The image of the sign does not show:

    1. Any indication that there is a barrier that will be closed and locked at any given times.

    2. Any contact number(s)and procedures to follow if a car is accidentally locked in by the closure of the barrier.

    Are there any signs explaining this? If not, why not?

    • Sean Jenkinson Reply

      September 19, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      The big wooden barrier at the entrance to the road may be a giveaway, but then again if they did not see the sign the big sign at the entrance to the road, I am thinking maybe it’s time they stopped driving.
      As for “unlawful imprisonment”; they were free to go they could have called a taxi, not ideal I know but they were free to go. They could just not get the car out. I’m sorry but having a blue badge does not mean you are free to do whatever you want and everyone else should pander to your needs, although there are some blue badge holders that seem to think that this is the case.

  6. Helena Townsend Reply

    September 19, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    The sign says no vehicles – if the sign isn’t enough did the couple fail to see that the whole road has now been pedestrianised and therefore worked out that the parking restrictions may have changed too?

    As for suing for false imprisonment it’s laughable – no wonder the person who came to unlock barrier smirked.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      September 20, 2018 at 8:50 am


      Perhaps Mr and Mrs Cox did fail to read the sign. That does not change the fact that some council employee came along afterwards and knowingly locked the gate so that they could not leave.

      That person was presumably no less blind than Mr and Mrs Cox. So which is worse: to make an innocent mistake, or to deliberately lock a car in so as to cause maximum inconvenience to many different people, including the council?

      Was the Council employee a septuagenarian? Or was he or she just malicious and taking a perverse pleasure in causing distress to the public?

      Mr and Mrs Cox are not laughing. And right thinking people are not applauding this action by someone paid to act in the public interest.

  7. John Ferns Reply

    September 19, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    I await, with bated breath, to what Cllr Ellwood has to say.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of this incident, to have taken three hours to resolve the matter, and only to respond with the alleged smirk, reflects very badly on both the SCC and GBC personnel involved.

  8. John Perkins Reply

    September 20, 2018 at 11:16 am

    The couple were certainly wrong to park there, and to drop the barrier was probably proportionate, though three hours to lift it again was not. It’s not for parking attendants to deem what punishment should be meted out.

    Who benefits from this? Not the retailers or their customers, pedestrian or otherwise.

  9. Pearl Catlin Reply

    September 20, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    This possibly puts an end to my intention of visiting Tunsgate. I can’t cope with slopes but Tunsgate does at least bring one to a pretty good centre spot in the High Street.

    There used to be a few spaces for disabled parking. Is this kind of thing what one must expect? Or are mountains being made from molehills? Hope so.

  10. Keith Parkins Reply

    September 21, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Pedestrianised Tunsgate is much improved as is any city centre when pedestrianised and traffic free. Not though whilst the work was taking place, for which local traders have received no compensation for loss of trade, at the very least there should have been a suspension of business rates for the duration of the work.

    The couple should not have been parked there, but that was not grounds for their illegal detention. I trust there will be a police prosecution.

    It does though raise questions of their competence to be on the road if they cannot read clearly displayed signs or see the street is now pedestrianised and has been for several weeks,

    But they are not the only problem. Deliveroo drivers are illegally parking across the entrance of Tunsgate when delivering for Pho. Worst case, Deliveroo driver in addition to being illegally parked, left a key in ignition and engine running. When challenged became aggressive and claimed he was working and could park where he liked. Another Deliveroo driver drove through Tunsgate. Pho seem to be aware of this.

    The council and the police need to take action against Deliveroo drivers.

  11. Keith Parkins Reply

    September 21, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Ben Darnton of Ben’s records has raised a very valid point, what of an emergency if it takes three hours to unlock the barrier, a violent robbery at the jewellers or Tunsgate Quarter being burnt to the ground?

  12. Keith Parkins Reply

    September 21, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Overzealous jobsworths are a major problem.

    A few weeks ago a car parked just for sufficient time to offload a box of records at Ben’s Records but a jobsworth tried to ticket the car, even though doing nothing illegal.

    It was claimed that the vehicle was blocking access for an emergency but it seems it is ok to take three hours for a jobsworth to unlock the barrier.

  13. Nicholas Bateman Reply

    September 26, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    The Parking Restriction sign is confusing for anyone of average intelligence, let alone those who are driving a car and want/expect easy information about parking laws/requirements. I had to read it three times in order to determine what, exactly, the council were restricting traffic to and what allowance there was for parking.

    If you are elderly, your eyesight may be restricted for reading, but not for driving. This should be borne in mind when making comments.

    Unfortunately, councillors like politicians, only think of themselves. They simply have no understanding of what it is like to go through the latter stages of your life with restrictions of your eyesight – with the aforementioned capability to drive, but not to be able to read.

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