To whom it may concern:
I’m writing once again about the problems with parked cars in our little village, cars belonging to other people not villagers or their friends.
To remind you: our village of Uphill used to be on the road going south from Weston-super-Mare, known as the Bridgwater Road because it went to Bridgwater. At some point within the last half century, the Bridgwater Road was developed, made wider and straighter, and no longer went through Uphill, although, if you choose you can go into the village and back out again further along as a picturesque deviation.
In case you’re not aware, in Uphill there are two churches, two schools – a primary school, and a school for children and young people who experience complex barriers to learning for a range of reasons. We also have a hospice, two pubs, a restaurant, a tearoom, a boatyard, camping site and marina, a village hall, a church hall, a village shop, a physiotherapists… and maybe some other businesses which have slipped my memory – and on the edge of the village is Weston General Hospital, a large regional hospital. Our population is roughly 8,000, mixed young, old, families, couples, singles living in every sort of accommodation – except high-rise flats, no high-rise in Uphill.
As you can see from the paragraph above, even if you don’t know, Uphill is quite compact and busy – we do have green places – the schools’ playing fields, the park, – oh and the beach and dunes and open countryside which attract lots, and lots of visitors.
So, to the point I’m trying to make; many if not most residents have a car, many have more than one car – it’s the way of the developed world. Most people accommodate their cars on their own property, in the village carpark, or on-street; if you wander around the village in the evenings or in the school holidays you’ll see that the streets are quite empty – a few cars here and there, but mostly they are on drives, parking places or in garages.
However, during the normal working day, every road, drive, avenue, tiniest cul-de-sac is jammed with cars. Anywhere within a mile of the hospital is nose to tail parked cars – all the people who work there, all the patients with one-day appointments, all the visitors. The schools seem to have a lot of staff as there is a significant reduction in cars after the end of the school day; an extra school-realted difficulty is the number of parents who bring their children to school by car, and then pick them up afterwards – even down our little road there is a lot of cars arriving at school opening and closing times! There is a carpark, but small and expensive. In the roads around the schools it is the same; so many are reduced to single lanes which means a lot of reversing and pulling onto people’s drives when confronted with oncoming vehicles. In a couple of places, the road has a bend in it – old village, old road layout, so it is impossible to see if something is coming towards you along the single lane available until you round the corner. In some of the more recently built roads, with wide drives for each house, parking is more erratic which creates a chicane – sometimes its difficult for a car to squeeze through – how would a delivery van manage… or an ambulance…
Which brings me to the point; this is all jolly annoying… however, I guess we could all put up with it with ill grace, except I am very aware of the potential danger involved in this amount of parked vehicles in narrow roads and streets. I’m not talking about the potholes caused by lorries, buses etc trundling along gutters because the narrow roads are narrowed by parked cars, but about access. Seriously, how could an ambulance, fire engine or other emergency vehicle get through? At eleven o’clock on a week day – how could they attend an emergency?
I mention eleven o’clock, because today I came home and trying to reach my house along the aforementioned bendy road, ahead of me I could see along the single lane available, a single-decker bus, a dustcart and a builders merchant’s lorry delivering something to someone, blocking the way. I managed to turn round (going up onto someone’s driveway) as did the person behind, and as we drove out, there was another single-decker bus turning in. I looped round the village and came back to the same road from the other end; I could still see the builders merchant’s lorry, and beyond it, no doubt, was the dustcart and two buses -oh and poor people in their cars trapped between. I could also see a double-decker bus to add to the competition… Luckily for me, I could get to my road – and then had to chicane down it, squeezing between the erratically parked cars…
There is a very clichéed phrase – ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ – but seriously, it is! A fire at the hospice or school for children with difficulties (some physical) a medical emergency for an elderly person, something dramatic involving the police – as far as i know nothing like this has happened yet, although we have had these emergencies they seem to have happened when access wasn’t too bad.
You may say there is no solution, ti’s the modern world etc. etc. so very etc. Two things spring to mind; what seems a simple, helpful idea is to make certain areas of the village one-way; you may still have the same number of cars in the village – visitors and residents, but at least you wouldn’t have the nose to nose confrontations. Another idea would be to have residents’ parking – I’ve seen it so often in other places; not necessarily throughout the whole village, but just at those crunch points where parking causes a single lane thoroughfare. Another idea would be to make even the wider roads no-parking on one side so there would be two-way traffic. Another – impossible solution, would be to have park and ride for the hospital staff and visitors away from the village – or a decent bus service!
I know even these simple solutions are beyond you, Whom, and it’s no good trotting out the recession excuse, these problems have been here for years – to a lesser extent it’s true, but now I really see a disaster – but no doubt, Whom, you will evade responsibility!
Yours sincerely etc. etc.