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My ordeal as nine of us get trapped in a lift at Cambridge Leisure after Wilko Johnson concert



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Trapped in a lift at Cambridge Leisure Park Car Park, Clifton Way, Cambridge. Picture: Mike Scialom
Trapped in a lift at Cambridge Leisure Park Car Park, Clifton Way, Cambridge. Picture: Mike Scialom

I was among a group of eight men and one woman trapped in a lift for almost an hour at Cambridge Leisure car park on Clifton Way on Thursday night (April 25) as we tried to make our way home after a Wilko Johnson concert at The Junction.

The ordeal began soon after the concert ended at around 10.30pm and we went to collect our vehicles at the car park just a few metres from the venue.

At 10.35pm, nine of us got into the lift. After a few seconds the mechanism jolted ominously and the lift came to rest between two floors. Attempts to get it moving using the control panel failed. Only one person was able to use their mobile phone due to poor signal strength.

Initially the security office for the site was called, using the number on a notice inside the lift.

The security employee who answered took details of the incident but warned an emergency lift engineer was "at least an hour away".

Twenty minutes later no progress had been made, there was no estimated arrival time for the engineer and the security officer asked the group about whether there was any sort of medical emergency before calling the emergency services out.

One man was suffering from the after-effects of major back surgery and needed to take his medication, while the others were getting hot and fractious.

The caller was asked: "Has anyone taken any recreational drugs?"

Eight men of a certain age - Dr Feelgood's hey-day being in the late 1970s - looked at each other...

"There's no recreational drugs involved," Gavin, the group spokesperson, told the emergency services operative via mobile.

Conditions becoming increasingly difficult, if not farcical.

The emergency operative told us: "Don't move, stay where you are and we'll get someone out to you soon."

I'm not sure where else we might be going.

"You've got a window of opportunity to sort this out," said Gavin, the group's communicator told him via mobile.

Emergency services to the rescue at Cambridge Leisure Park Car Park after a concert by the Wilko Johnson Band at The Junction. Picture: Mike Scialom
Emergency services to the rescue at Cambridge Leisure Park Car Park after a concert by the Wilko Johnson Band at The Junction. Picture: Mike Scialom

At 11.23pm a security guard could be heard outside saying the lights would go out and the lift would go down slowly, but nothing happened.

"We haven't talked to one helpful person so far," noted Gavin levelly.

Sam, Martin and Emily were among those who tried to maintain a positive attitude in the lift. As the air became intolerable, the group forced the lift doors open and a small draught came in. The relief was palpable.

Finally, at 11.32pm, the lift doors were opened, allowing everyone to clamber out to safety.

The security team at Cambridge Leisure Park Car Park told the Cambridge Independent: "The engineer opened the doors to bring this incident to an end. The ambulance was called at the same time."

The lift, it turns out, was designed to hold up to eight people - something we were not aware of as we got in, although on closer inspection there was a sign in the lift to that effect.

So the moral of the story is: don't get into a lift with eight people or more at Cambridge Leisure Park car park.

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