Residents living near the government offices in North Shore are being asked to rent out their driveways to civil servants for £5 a week.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employs 3,000 staff off Warbreck Hill Road but has parking for just 1,000 cars – leaving nearby streets clogged up during the day.
Using the car park at the demolished high school in nearby Bispham Road, vacated when Aspire Academy moved to Blackpool Old Road, has provided around 100 spaces but, with around 600 cars still thought to be left outside people’s homes, parking remains one of the area’s biggest problems.
And Coun Christine Wright, of Sidney Avenue, believes she and fellow local councillor Chris Ryan have come up with a novel solution which she hopes will benefit both workers and residents.
She said: “We are trying to think outside the box and try a solution that appeases everybody. It’s the worst issue for Greenlands. Where others might have issues with HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) or dog muck, I have to be honest it [parking] is our worst thing really.”
Nobody has signed up for the newly launched scheme yet, though residents were in favour of trying anything that could help alleviate the problem, which has led to clashes in the past – and has even led to people putting their own cones out.
Lisa Ryan, of Washington Avenue, said: “I certainly would not be letting somebody park on my driveway for £5 a week. When they are outside they are there from 8am until 5.30pm. I can’t imagine anyone going for that.
“My husband puts cones outside the house. He drives a big van and if he does not put a cone out there’s someone parked outside the house [when he comes back from work] and he has to park miles away.
“In winter time, when there’s rain, they want to get as close to work as they can.”
And Patricia Bluck, of Seattle Avenue, does not believe the idea will work for her – and instead called on the council to turn the whole of the old Aspire site into a car park.
The 68-year-old, who used to work at the DWP, said: “I think people who live further away will be the first ones to benefit from any extra parking.
“As soon as spaces open up, the ones parking further away will just fill it. I don’t think it will make any difference.”
Coun Wright said the “bargain” rate of £5 per week, which works out at less than 13p an hour based on an eight-hour shift, is the same price charged at the new car park in Bispham Road. In contrast, town centre workers parking in the council-owned Talbot Road multi-storey car park face paying £10 for eight hours.
“Yes, it’s a bargain for parking but if they can park in the street sooner than pay £1 a day people will,” she said, saying she wants to attract the security-conscious who would feel safer leaving their car off-road. She added: “I was thinking there would be quite a few older people who have a driveway but no longer drive a car. It would be a little bit of income.”
Around £10,000 will also be spent painting double yellow lines on street corners plagued by motorists leaving their cars there, introducing parking restrictions, and on new signs.
The Highway Code already makes it illegal to stop or park vehicles “opposite or within 10 metres of a junction, except in an unauthorised parking space [or] when forced to do so by stationary traffic,” though that is routinely ignored in streets like Washington Avenue, which runs parallel to Bispham Road, and roads off it, like Stopford Avenue. Both roads are amongseveral set for new parking and waiting restrictions, as are Maurice Grove, Ludlow Grove, Brough Avenue, and Bispham Road and a number of others.
Coun Wright said she now wants to launch a petition urging the government to re-open the nearby Mexford House site, off Warley Road, in order to use the car park spaces there.
She said: “The building has been locked up for years and our residents are suffering with this problem. It seems logical to me when you look down on paper.”
Coun Chris Ryan, of Lichfield Road, added: “We have been working with the residents to try to improve things. As you can appreciate, it’s a bit diabolical.
“We have also been working with the DWP and hopefully we will find a way forward. We have got an open mind and would appreciate anybody who can come forward to help us alleviate the problem.
“The end result we want is to try and cause less inconvenience for the locals. It’s nothing to do with the money – it’s purely down to how we can improve things for people in the area.”
A spokesman for the DWP, one of the town’s biggest employers, said: “We have recently reviewed our parking policy and increased the amount of on-site parking to the maximum we can while maintaining health and safety standards, creating an additional 110 spaces. Other initiatives such as reviews of the pass allocation and reserved parking systems, and car sharing have also created significant numbers of additional spaces.
“We would be happy to work with the council to explore alternative parking options in the local area.”
It said it had “previously explored the use of Mexford House but this is not an option due to commercial reasons.”
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