St Albans parking problems 'are risking lives'

PUBLISHED: 07:47 05 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 06 May 2010

Batchwood View resident Christina Smith and her daughter Millie

Batchwood View resident Christina Smith and her daughter Millie

Casey Gutteridge

RESIDENTS living in a street next to St Albans City Hospital claim that the lack of parking restrictions is putting people s lives at risk. Last Thursday morning, March 24, an ambulance carrying a 72-year-old woman was blocked in at Batchwood View and the

RESIDENTS living in a street next to St Albans City Hospital claim that the lack of parking restrictions is putting people's lives at risk.

Last Thursday morning, March 24, an ambulance carrying a 72-year-old woman was blocked in at Batchwood View and the vehicle had to make a difficult manoeuvre before finding another route to the hospital.

The patient's son Richard Ricks, a barrister, explained that his mother, who lives in designated elderly accommodation, was suffering from gastroenteritis which resulted in her losing so much weight that she needed to go to hospital.

Trapped

But while the paramedics were putting her into the vehicle, five cars pulled up and double-parked, trapping the ambulance and preventing it from getting out.

Luckily, it was not an emergency but Mr Ricks, who also has problems with parking outside his home in nearby Alban Avenue, warned that the consequences could have been far worse.

He said parking was "less than thoughtful" and lacking in common sense.

He continued: "Nobody going to the hospital is going to want to pay and I appreciate that, but the way they park is ridiculous. It's like a slalom course whenever I try and get in or out.

"I would ask people to please think about how you are parking, particularly outside elderly people's accommodation because the consequences in the event of an emergency are obvious."

Batchwood View resident Christina Smith watched last week's incident unfold and also warned that the parking was putting people's lives in danger.

Her one-year-old daughter Millie is suffering with chest problems and stopped breathing five times when she was six months old and rushed to hospital.

Mrs Smith, who also has a three-year-old son called Adam with her husband Michael, said that the consequences of being blocked into the road when Millie was rushed to hospital were "unthinkable."

She continued: "We've been living here for 10 years and it's just been getting worse and worse.

"They park on both sides of the road so you can't get through or so far up on the path that you can't get the pushchair past, so then I'm walking out into the road and putting myself in danger.

"I don't blame anybody, the trouble is with the hospital parking situation - it is dreadful, it costs too much money and there aren't enough spaces."

Mrs Smith also explained that she was blocked into her driveway at least once a day, which happened when she was nine months pregnant.

The residents have been calling for the council to implement a residents-only parking zone for some time and Mrs Smith said they thought this would be in place by the beginning of this year but were left disappointed.

She called for the council to press ahead with the plans as a matter of urgency and asked people to ensure they parked considerately in the meantime.

Impact

She added: "I just want people to stop and think about how they are parking and what impact they are having on people. When I raise it with people most of them apologise profusely and they just haven't considered whether or not an ambulance can get through, which you wouldn't."

A spokesperson for the district council said that the draft Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) was being prepared and it would then be advertised for 21 days.

Provided there were no major objections, arrangements would be made for the parking restrictions to be implemented in Alban Avenue, Batchwood View, Eleanor Avenue, High Grove and Margaret Avenue.

The spokesperson added: "These measures will prevent non-residents from parking in this area and make spaces available for those who live there. However, these measures cannot prevent an inconsiderate motorist causing an obstruction; our experience is that residents do park considerately within their own area. In cases of obstructive parking this currently remains the responsibility of the police."

Pc Lee Osborne of the St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Team said: "We are aware of the parking problems in Batchwood View and are liaising with the local council, the hospital and Hertfordshire Highways to resolve the issues.

"We would ask members of the public to be considerate when they park, taking into account that ambulances are able to pass through without obstruction.

"We regularly patrol the area, along with local parking wardens, and anyone found to be causing an obstruction could be subject to a fine or have their vehicle towed away incurring further charges."

He added: "It is important that police are kept updated with the parking problems in the area and I would encourage anyone who witnesses someone parking inconsiderately or causing an obstruction that may hinder emergency vehicles getting through, to report it to us by calling the non-emergency number 0845 33 00 222.

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