AN ambulance responding to an emergency call could not fit through a side street due to inconsiderate parking - prompting fresh calls for more to be done to prevent vehicles from being ditched on side streets close to Barnsley Hospital.

Issues surrounding the hospital and its nearby residential areas came under the spotlight again at a crime meeting which saw Coun Phil Lofts, who represents the Old Town ward, appeal to both Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Police to finally act on ‘years’ of residents’ complaints.

Summer Lane, Queen’s Avenue, Bingley Street, Brierfield Close, Victoria Crescent and Welbeck Street have all been identified as particular flare-up points where it’s alleged both hospital staff and visitors have abandoned their vehicles to avoid parking fees.

“The modus operandi is that we’re doing more with less and we have absolutely no resources to deal with this serious problem, one that’s been taking place without any answer for years,” Coun Lofts said.

“Summer Lane, a busy route at the best of times, is clogged up and the side streets around Barnsley Hospital are constantly jammed with parked cars. An ambulance could not get through recently which shows just how bad it is.

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“Councillors report inconsiderate parking, as do residents, and we bring it up at every meeting we attend as it’s a constant, yet nothing is ever done about it.

“We’ve reached a point where an ambulance, which had its blue lights on, could not fit through to get to an emergency report and that’s just not on.”

Coun Lofts said meetings have taken place with Barnsley Hospital - although the manner of parking was difficult to enforce due to no current traffic regulation orders being in place.

A resident-only parking scheme previously considered was ruled out on cost grounds.

The council’s online reporting system also came under fire at the meeting, where residents said their reports had ‘gone unnoticed’ - something which the local authority’s tasking officer Cath Fairweather refuted.

“The information that’s received is looked at, I can assure people of that, and acted on straight away,” she added. “The type of offence is assessed and it’s passed to either the highways or enforcement department.”

Police said the matter was predominantly a council-related one, unless the parked vehicle was causing a serious obstruction.

Sgt Dave Baines added: “It’s illegal to park on a pavement in London, but nowhere else. There’s advice which suggests motorists should park ten metres away from a junction and it only becomes enforceable when the circumstances are deemed dangerous.

“The trouble is many cases are thought of as being inconsiderate and that does not mean it’s illegal, but we do judge each report on its own merit.

“We have no powers to issue penalties if they’re parked on single or double yellow lines as it’s enforced by the council.”

A council statement said it is not an offence to park on a pavement - unless the vehicle is causing an obstruction.

“We have a responsibility to keep the roads and footpaths in the borough safe to use. Illegally parked vehicles cost the council thousands of pounds a year in damaged paving and grass verges, and cause serious problems for blind, disabled and older people,” it added.

“Equipment belonging to public utilities, such as gas mains, water mains, sewer connections and telecoms services can also be damaged by motorists driving over or along raised footways.

“We have no power to take action against motorists who park on pavements where there are no yellow lines.

“Ring 101, the police’s non-emergency number, and they may deal with the issue as an obstruction.

“If you park on a pavement or verge where there are waiting restrictions such as yellow lines on the road adjacent to the pavement, we can issue you with a parking ticket known as a penalty charge notice (PCN).”

Coun Chris Lamb, cabinet spokesperson, added: “Inconsiderate parking, which takes place on an unrestricted part of the highway, can only be dealt with by the police. The council do not have any powers unless restrictions are in place.

“Where restrictions such as residents’ parking, yellow lines and bus stops exist, our parking services team are able to enforce regulations.”

Hospital attempt to tackle issues

BARNSLEY Hospital invited Old Town’s ward councillors to a meeting to discuss their ongoing concerns with parking last Thursday.

Lorraine Christopher, the managing director of Barnsley Facilities Services which looks after day-to-day management of car parking at the hospital, told councillors that the hospital’s ruling trust was working hard to reduce staff dependence on using cars to travel to and from work.

The trust has recently invested more than £250,000 on upgrading its car parking barriers which, they say, has already had some impact on improving traffic flow and easing congestion.

However, councillors say the long-running issues are proving to be a ‘never ending’ source of complaints from those living in nearby side streets where inconsiderate parking is occurring.

Coun Phil Lofts brought the matter up with police at a crime meeting recently, leading to officers committing to more patrols in areas identified.

Lorraine added: “We have also taken further measures such as encouraging car share schemes and increasing the number of bike lockers on site.

“The hospital is reviewing its latest active travel plan which encourages sustainable travel.

“We have about 3,800 staff and only 1,200 parking places on site and we reserve around half of these for patients and visitors.

“We have to limit the number of temporary car parking permits issued to staff to ensure that adequate parking is available for those patients and visitors.

“We regularly remind staff through our internal communications about the impact of inconsiderate parking on residential streets and we have worked with resident groups to identify issues when they arise.”