A spate of inconsiderate parking by visitors has led residents in an area around Ulster Hospital to take direct action. They have been putting ‘fake’ parking tickets on offending car windscreens. There have also been complaints that cars have been damaged in an ongoing row over parking in the area of Northern Ireland. The problem is that although local residents are often inconvenienced by the visitors’ cars, the location is a public area, and there are no parking restrictions.
The police are not happy with the actions being taken by the residents, and have issued a warning against committing criminal damage or taking any other type of action, but the residents clearly don’t intend to allow themselves to be put off. Some residents have apparently been placing boxes, bins and other obstructions outside their houses in order to reserve a space, but these have been moved by visitors in order to park their cars, causing much irritation among the local community. Some visitors have also reported that their cars have been ‘keyed’ (scratched with a key), or marked with permanent marker pens.
Fake parking tickets
The ‘fake’ parking tickets that motorists have found on their windscreens are described as ‘intimidating’; One driver stated that he had found a notice under his windscreen wiper which said that the vehicle was parked in a ‘private parking zone’ and that the car registration has been noted. If the car was parked there again, the notice continued, it would be clamped, and then towed away ‘at your expense’. Given that the car was in fact legally parked, and wasn’t blocking anyone’s driveway, this threat caused the driver both anger and unease as he feared his car would be damaged.
The dispute has been a long-standing one, and has come about because parking at the Ulster Hospital is not free, even for the staff who work there, and hospital workers and people visiting the hospital choose to park in the surrounding streets. This causes annoyance to the local residents, who often cannot park their own cars outside their houses. One resident stated that although he was the holder of a blue badge as he has restricted mobility, he often can’t find a parking spot anywhere near his own house, and ends up parking in the next street, which annoys the residents there. Other residents complain that the cars, although legally parked, are an obstruction and cause limited visibility when they try to reverse out of their own driveways.
Police appeal for calm
The police have tried to calm the situation, and are investigating both the reported criminal damage to cars and the hoax parking tickets found on car windscreens. In the meantime, they have published a leaflet are asking that anyone inconvenienced by a visiting car or seeing one parked illegally and causing an obstruction should contact them on 101 (the non-emergency police phone number) rather than take direct action against the vehicle or the driver.