THE plight of people living near Cheney Park who regularly have to battle for parking spaces outside their own homes has “gone beyond a joke”, according to the daughter of one of the oldest residents of the area.
Elizabeth Cochrane’s daughter Yvonne told the Leader she had to move her 83-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia and is unable to walk, out of her home for a day last week when traffic was so bad in the street that she feared an ambulance or fire truck would be unable to gain access to the house should an emergency arise.
And neighbour Jo-Anne Clydesdale told how she had to arrange for her 13-year-old disabled daughter Aimee to be collected from Donard school as the bus couldn’t make its way to their home to drop the wheelchair bound teen off as usual.
The overspill of people parking in the nearby Coach car park has been an issue for residents, they say, since Cheney Park was redeveloped around four years ago.
Since then events in the park have seen huge crowds of people park outside their homes - even in the designated and clearly marked disabled spot outside Jo-Anne’s home - to attend matches, sports days and so on.
Neighbours say they have already contacted the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to express their dismay at how bad the situation has become, and their concern at the effect the parking charges in other parts of the town may have on the already crowded and popular area when the 40p per hour tariff is introduced next week.
Yvonne said she has had to ask people to move their cars on numerous occasions but added the responses from motorists are often less than pleasant.
“I asked someone once ‘How would you like if I parked in your driveway and blocked it off’, and he said ‘Well I wouldn’t live here so it’s not my problem’.
“That’s the attitude we’re up against. People just don’t care.”
Jo-Anne said she feels parking attendants should patrol the Coach car park more often to fine those who park across spaces and lines, and to ensure only blue badge holders park in disabled spaces.
“When people are deliberately flouting the rules around disabled spaces and where they park then I think something really has to be done.
“I would ask Danny Kennedy to think of us and how we have to live our lives when we can’t get a parking space outside our own home. I have to carry my daughter from the car into the house so I need to be parked outside the front door.
“Roads Service have signs in that car park - how can it not be their responsibility?”
When contacted by the Leader DRD said they will assess the area in September “when alterations to parking charges in Banbridge have been completed and traffic returns to normal levels following the summer period in order to maximise the potential of any request.”
Geoff Allister, chief executive of Roads Service has written to the residents encouraging them to bring any incidents where traffic obstucts the road to the police.
He added that parking attendants have now been asked to patrol the area and Banbridge Council have been contacted on the matter.