Odeon Cinema has an arrangement whereby cinema-goers arriving by car for evening films can, subject to conditions, get some free parking in Churchill Square No.1 car park. This car park is accessed from West Street via Regency Road and, having taken the timed ticket at the entrance, the driver should descend two floors to the Russell Road level and park as near the exit as possible. From here the Odeon entrance is about 5 minutes walk away.
The rule applied is that customers watching a film with an advertised start time of 17:30hrs or later get three hours of free parking from the time indicated on their parking ticket (which must be validated at the booking office); but, before 5:30pm, customers must pay for their parking.
The duration of most popular films nowadays hovers around the 2 hour mark. On the face of it this leaves about an hour's margin for guaranteeing free parking but this hour is eaten into by: the time travelling between car park and cinema, say 5 minutes each way; time taken to buy a ticket, this sometimes means queueing for 15 minutes (you can't use an automatic machine because it won't validate your parking ticket); at least 5 minutes for getting to your seat, probably more if you are elderly and the screen is at the top of the building; and at least another 20 minutes for the adverts and trailers before the film starts. So out of the hour's latitude you thought you had you are now down to between 5 and 10 minutes; so definitely no time for a post-film coffee and chinwag.
If you are going to one of the longer block-busters, "Titanic" and "Return of the King" spring to mind and were well over 3 hours long, resign yourself to at least a £2 parking charge and if the programme is due to start soon after 5.30pm and consequently you arrive in the car park a few minutes before 5.30 you will be paying £2 for that period, and another £2 if you go over the 3 hours, i.e. £4 in total, as if you had left the car park and come back in again. For £4 you could have got 4 hours parking anyway.
Editor's note: 5 July 2017. The prices quoted above are no longer correct.
Related post:- The North Road Car Park Trap