PROBLEM parkers struck the seaside last weekend, blocking roads near beaches in Bangor, Holywood and Helen’s Bay.
The problem was so bad that a fire engine was even stopped from reaching an emergency at Brompton in Bangor – something caused by thoughtless motorists selfishly deciding that ‘no parking’ signs in the area didn’t apply to them.
Problem parkers occupied a turning circle at Brompton that’s next to a gate used by the emergency services when someone gets into trouble in the sea.
Cars parked in front of that gate blocked a fire engine from getting to the scene last weekend.
According to local politicians, in this case no lives were in danger – though they fear that the next time someone parks in front of seaside emergency access routes, the situation could go tragically wrong.
“This is a potentially serious situation,” said councillor Alistair Cathcart. “If somebody gets into difficulties in the water or along the coast, emergency services will not be able to access the coastal path.
“Last year I secured signage on this gate in Brompton stating that there is no parking, and that emergency access is required. This was sadly ignored.”
The arrival of hot summer weather always brings crowds of sun-worshippers to North Down’s ‘gold coast’ beaches, and last weekend was no different.
But with Brompton an increasingly popular bathing area, it’s now joining Helen’s Bay and Holywood as a hotspot for problem parking.
Said Mr Cathcart: “Cars have been parking all over the place at Brompton; they are blocking driveways, parking in the turning circle and on both sides of the narrow road.”
His DUP colleague, councillor Jennifer Gilmour, called on the authorities to tow away problem parkers any time they hit the scene.
“The PSNI agreed last year to patrol the area, issue fines and tow vehicles blocking access,” she said. ”We have called on the police to attend again this year.”
The problem at Brompton has been made worse, Mrs Gilmour suggested, by the fact that double-yellow lines in the area have not yet been repainted following heavy-duty sewer system works.
“However, the lack of double yellow lines is no excuse for blocking access,” she said.
“There are a few spaces for cars along the road; please, do not park in front of the gate, in the turning circle, in front of residents’ driveways or both sides of the road.
“You may get fined or your car towed away – but worse, you could put a life in danger.”
Regular problems at Helen’s Bay and Holywood also resurfaced last weekend, with residents near beaches complaining that they had trouble getting to and from their homes due to the amount of sun-worshipping visitors clogging local streets.
According to Green councillor Rachel Woods, in both areas motorists were blocking residents’ driveways and parking on grass verges and green spaces, before heading to the beach for a day out.
“I was contacted by numerous people over the weekend about lack of access, with some having to park over a mile from their homes because of the number of vehicles in the area,” she said.
“Traffic wardens patrol the town centres for illegal parking but they are also needed elsewhere, as well as the PSNI who can enforce certain parking offences.
“I would urge those who are out and about to think about their parking; think about whether they’re blocking an entrance, causing an obstruction, or parked on a pavement meaning people cannot pass through safely.”