City gridlocked after YouTuber visit
An appearance by YouTuber James Charles is believed to have brought Birmingham city centre to a standstill after 8,000 fans flocked to the Bull Ring.
The beauty guru was greeted by four floors of screaming supporters during his visit to the shopping centre at about 16:00 GMT.
But motorists were stuck in gridlocked traffic from 15:00 until 19:30.
Drivers trying to leave car parks found they were stuck and some opted to abandon their vehicles overnight.
Suffolk Street Queensway, Navigation Street, and Hill Street were all heavily congested.
Celebrity vlogger Charles tweeted a video showing the huge crowds at the shopping centre.
On Snapchat, he said it was the biggest meet-and-greet session he had ever done.
“There were 8,000 sisters [fans] at the mall,” he said. “We keep breaking records every single time.
“I will literally never forget today.”
Some fans had begun queuing at 08:00 to see him – but it is believed only about 250 took part in the meet-and-greet appearance inside the Morphe make-up store.
Crowds of supporters blocked the aisles, bringing the shopping centre to a standstill.
West Midlands Police had earlier said the gridlock was caused by problems with traffic lights at the junction of Bristol Street and The Horsefair.
But contractors Amey later said this was incorrect and the lights had been working all day.
Who is James Charles?
James is a 19-year-old social media star from Bethlehem, New York.
He has a YouTube channel followed by almost 14 million people where he uploads make-up tutorials, reviews and challenges.
The beauty influencer makes millions of dollars via his own merchandise and clothing range and sponsored social media posts.
He calls his fans “sisters” and his fanbase “the sisterhood”.
Last year, he released his own eyeshadow palette that sent millions of teens and make-up lovers into a tailspin as they tried to get their hands on it. The palette sold out worldwide within hours – twice.
Drivers took to social media to express their frustration at the Birmingham traffic.
Luke Strong said the city’s traffic “might be the worst thing in the UK”.
While Carole Anne wished motorists “good luck” as she had “not moved in an hour”.