There has been an “explosion” in complaints from residents living close to Runshaw College over illegal parking - and the situation could spark a rethink about enforcement action throughout South Ribble.
It follows the closure last summer of the overspill car park at Worden Park, which for the past four years has provided spaces for around 100 students who were issued with permits by South Ribble Borough Council.
But the authority’s leader, Paul Foster, told a recent full council meeting that the arrangement will be reviewed when the car park reopens later this year.
The overflow facility is currently closed on weekdays in advance of major repairs, which have been delayed since they were first scheduled last July - once the scale of the work needed became clear.
“There is an awful lot of damage that has been caused, unfortunately, by the students - and it’s costing this council £120,000 to put it right. I struggle to understand why the council taxpayers of South Ribble should be subsidising the car parking of Runshaw College,” Cllr Foster said.
He added that the authority wanted to see a “detailed parking strategy” developed for the whole borough to resolve its “nightmare” parking problems.
Lancashire County Council is responsible for enforcement of on-street parking restrictions across all districts. But Buckshaw and Worden ward councillor Alan Ogilvie - who represents the area around Runshaw College - said borough councils like South Ribble needed more of a say in directing wardens to parking problem hotspots.
“There appears to have been an explosion of complaints from residents in certain areas about inappropriate parking - we’re having huge difficulties in Cairndale Drive, Dalehead Road and Lonsdale Close,” he explained.
“I’ve been in consultation with Runshaw College about how they might approach their students [regarding illegal parking] - and parents who are waiting for students in inappropriate places. People have tried but it’s not working.
“Beech Avenue, Beechfield Road and Moorfield Road are access only - but people are still parking there when they are not supposed to be.”
At a separate cabinet meeting, Cllr Ogilvie said some drivers were also “idling” - leaving their engines running for prolonged periods - when they come to collect Runshaw students from surrounding streets.
That meeting heard that South Ribble is launching an anti-idling campaign across the borough, which will see motorists approached about the effects of their actions on air quality.
Cabinet member for the environment Sue Jones said: “We now have a new member of staff and their first priority is to get that [campaign] under way.
“They can go and advise and appeal to motorists, in any area, to turn their engines off [while they are waiting].”
Cllr Foster added that the authority has the power to bring in its own bylaws to issue fines to anybody who refuses to reply with such a request - although he stressed that there are no plans to do that at present.
Lancashire County Council said in statement: "We continually review our priorities for parking enforcement according to intelligence received and would ask people to email email@example.com about any issues they are aware of.
"We're aware of the potential for issues on the Worden Estate due to students attending the college - and pay particular attention to this area at the start of the academic year."
A meeting between Runshaw College and South Ribble Borough Council is planned for next month to discuss the issue of parking further.
Off-street parking regulations in the borough - covering dedicated car parks - are enforced by a company commissioned by South Ribble Council under an arrangement with Wyre and Lancaster councils.
HOW THE COLLEGE SAYS IT IS TRYING TO HELP
The Post has been reporting on parking problems in the area around Runshaw College for over a decade.
Back in 2006, students were branded “a menace” by residents for leaving their cars on the Worden estate and for “racing around” Worden Park’s car park.
Two years later, the college banned student parking within its own grounds, except for those who require it in exceptional circumstances. Students were instead encouraged to use public transport.
Euxton Villa FC also sells permits so that students can its grounds - which are around half a mile from the Langdale Road college.
In relation to the latest flare-up over the issue, a spokesperson for Runshaw College said that it is doing all it can to help alleviate parking problems - for residents and students.
“There are more than 40 buses a day coming from all over the North West to and from the college - and we subsidise almost half the cost of passes for students who choose that option.
“We re-tender the service every year so that the routes run as close as possible to that year’s cohort of students
"We have a close working relationship with South Ribble Borough Council and we always try to find workable solutions with them to the issue of parking. We will continue to work in partnership with the authority going forward."
Parking and waiting on roads on the Worden estate have been prohibited during the day in term-time for around 25 years.
When the Post visited the area this week, there was a mixed assessment about the extent of the problem - with some people saying that the yellow lines were doing their job and others expressing sympathy for students in need of somewhere to park.
But opinion was less sympathetic on Cairndale Drive - which is directly opposite the gates of Runshaw College.
“This street during term time is bedlam,” said one resident who did not want to be named.
“They park on both sides of the street and you can’t get up and down. There aren’t many parking attendants and half the time when they do come, they just walk past all the cars.
“Then you get boy racers hurtling up and down the street - there was a skid mark outside my house earlier this week.”
Fellow Cairndale resident Don Price said the biggest problem came at the end of the day when those students who do not drive themselves are collected.
“The main issue is when people park across your drive while they’re waiting - so if you come back home at that time, you can’t get on your own path, “ Mr Price said.
“It’s the college’s problem, not mine - and the perception is they’re not doing anything about it.”
“It has also got ten times worse since the overspill [at Worden park] was closed.”
But another householder on the street - who did not give his name - said that he was “a lone voice” in wanting the yellow lines scrapped - and not for entirely selfless reasons.
“These restrictions also stop me and any visitors parking outside my own home.
“I campaigned to make sure that at least they weren’t in operation outside term-time and at weekends - at first it was every day of the year.
“I have some sympathy for the students. You’ll find a couple of them park all day, but what harm are they doing?
“At 3.00 when the rest of them are being picked up, it’s packed - but within ten minutes’ they’re all gone.”
A STUDENT’S STORY
When Runshaw College student Elishea Hilton passed her driving test late last year, her delight at being able to shorten the commute from her home in Bolton was tempered by the fact that she now needed to find somewhere to park.
So the 17-year-old pupil decided to appeal to homeowners on nearby roads to see if any of them would be willing to help her out - by allowing her to park on their driveway during the day.
She posted letters to around 20 properties - and received five offers of a space, for which she offered to pay £20 a month.
“The owners of the house where I’m now parking understood the problem all the students are facing,” Elishea explained.
“It’s been really difficult since the overspill at Worden Park closed and when I arrive, all the parking spaces at Euxton Villa have usually gone as well.
“I’m not offering much money, but it was just a goodwill gesture - and it was nice that somebody realised we’re not all just parking on the estate for the sake of it - it’s because we’re really struggling.”
Elishea has also lined up a friend with one of the other householders who is happy to provide a parking space for students.