South Belfast residents seek action on parking nightmare: 'It's a dangerous free-for-all and getting worse'
Residents in south Belfast are calling for parking controls to be implemented before someone is seriously injured or killed.
Those living on streets off the Lisburn Road say they are angry and frustrated by "inconsiderate and, at times, dangerous driving" in the area.
They say street parking has reached capacity in recent years due to the expansion of the nearby City Hospital and Queen's University.
They claim the problem is now so bad that mothers with prams are being forced to walk down busy roads because drivers are regularly parking on long stretches of footpaths which are too narrow to get past.
One mother of three young children, who lives on Ulsterville Avenue, contacted the Belfast Telegraph yesterday to express her concern over the problem.
"The residential streets (including my own) surrounding Fane Street Primary School have taken the brunt of the expansion, and are now used as a car park for many businesses," she said.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, added: "The lack of any order or parking controls has led to a dangerous free-for-all and it's getting worse.
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"Year after year my family are being forced to park further and further away from our house - most of the time several streets away - as commuters from other areas take up our spaces and increasingly park illegally.
"I often find my car blocked in and have great difficulty getting free while stalking for parking space is a regular occurrence."
The resident added: "Commuters looking to park in our neighbourhood are becoming increasingly aggressive when looking for space and verbally abusive on occasions.
"These daily experiences are very stressful for myself and my young family."
The woman says she is fearful for the safety of her child who is due to start at Fane Street nursery next September.
"I feel that with the way the parking is now, it's an accident waiting to happen," she said.
"I cannot emphasise enough that parking is out of control and has made this residential area a toxic and dangerous environment for young children.
"It has gone beyond breaking point for myself and other residents."
Neighbourhood Watch coordinator James Fee claims that the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is ignoring the residents' safety concerns.
He fears that someone will be killed as a result of this dangerous parking.
"I have never seen anything like the dangerous parking in the Lisburn Road neighbourhood," he said.
"Residents have reported these issues many times and nothing has been done.
"They are not looking to win anything, just trying to save lives.
"Would you tolerate the daily parking of cars in the middle of the road outside your home, leaving you unable to move?
"The DfI has a lot of explaining to do."
Earlier this year, Gerald Totten, who lives in nearby Dunluce Avenue, staged a walk with members of Guide Dogs NI, the PSNI and political parties, to highlight the access issues faced by disabled people on pavements where cars leave little room for movement.
South Belfast Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said that the DfI "really needs to get a grip" on the massive problems in the area before they get worse.
"Right across south Belfast, parking is a major issue and can greatly inconvenience pedestrians - especially parents with prams, wheelchair users and those who are partially-sighted," she said.
"I recently wrote to the head of the Department for Infrastructure to ask her what her plan is for tackling parking, congestion, and commuters using communities to park and/or speed-through.
"I have received a holding email and expect a response shortly.
"The department is also in the process of developing its policy around residents parking schemes, in terms of a ranking system," Ms Bradshaw added.
"This cannot come quickly enough for communities like the Lisburn Road, where interventions and greater controls are needed to ensure that local residents' are not put at risk and their quality of life is restored."
The DfI was contacted yesterday for a response, but it had not replied at the time of going to press.