COUNCIL BIDS TO EASE CARERS’ PARKING PROBLEMS

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COUNCILLORS hope to ease local carers’ working lives by lobbying for a parking protocol change that will permit parking on double yellow lines when tending the vulnerable. Councillors Alistair Cathcart and Trevor Cummings were prompted to take action after learning that care workers had ’regrettably’ been fined after parking on double yellow lines near to the home of the elderly gentleman they were caring for. The pair brought forward a joint notice of motion to the council’s Corporate Services Committee last week which won the backing of their colleagues. Councillor Cathcart said it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ that under pressure carers were being fined whilst carrying out their duties. In response, councillors agreed to write to the Department for Infrastructure to call for a change the current parking enforcement protocol, adding care workers to the list of exemptions to parking restrictions. If given the green light, carers could be added to a list of exemptions that are allowed for emergency vehicles, including the fire, police ambulance, coastguard and customs. Outlining his concerns, Mr Cathcart said the parking issue was brought to his attention by an elderly gentleman and his wife who require carers to visit their home four times a day. He said the carers received a parking ticket after stopping on double yellow lines during their home visit as there was limited street parking and the nearest car park was some distance away. Calling for a legislation change, the Bangor councillor said: “During the pandemic carers, like a lot of health and social care staff, stepped up. They are underpaid and undervalued and what I have suggested will make their job easier. It will allow them to provide necessary and vital care.” He said: “It is ridiculous that carers are being fined. They wanted to get in to care for the elderly couple rather than waste time trying to find a parking space. I see no reason why carers shouldn’t be included in the exemptions. It is the right thing to do.” Councillor Jennifer Gilmour backed the notice of motion saying: “Carers are key workers carrying out vital work for the most vulnerable in society. For many people it may be the only contact they have all day.” Describing carers as a ‘lifeline’ for many of their clients she said: “Often care workers are not the highest earners and they are on a tight schedule. They have to get to their clients at a specific time.” Saying she was not ‘blaming’ traffic wardens, councillor Gilmour said they were asking for a ‘legislative change to the parking protocol’ that will allow carers to carry out their duties and see them added to the list of exemptions. Alderman Stephen McIlveen said he was ‘more than happy’ to support the notice of motion, as it was important the work of carers was recognised as they helped ‘relieve stress on other parts of our health service’. Each committee decision must be ratified at a full council meeting.