Parking madness for Sunderland tower block residents

Rose Thompson, right, chair of the City Centre Residents Association, with fellow residents who are concerned about access difficulties to the city centre flats.
Rose Thompson, right, chair of the City Centre Residents Association, with fellow residents who are concerned about access difficulties to the city centre flats.
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FED-UP residents in a city centre tower block say a parking fiasco is now so bad that funeral cars and doctors’ vehicles are being slapped with tickets.

Neighbours at Astral House say they have to phone ahead to let the council know if a funeral cortege is leaving, just so mourners don’t get fined.

Now, the last straw has come after residents were told they face a massive hike in order to park their own cars.

The flat occupants had been paying £50 a year to park in the now-demolished Central Area car park. They have been told parking spaces will soon be available above Jacky White’s Market, but at an annual cost of £600.

Now some residents say they may be forced to sell their cars or move out.

Rose Thompson, who heads up the Astral House residents’ committee, fears a serious accident could happen if the parking situation is not resolved.

She said: “Somebody is going to die because they won’t let a nurse or a doctor park without giving them a ticket.

“When the nurses come, they come in twos or threes so one can wait in the car to make sure they don’t get a ticket.

“All of us are elderly, all of us have family coming to visit. The Bridges car park closes at 6pm, so where do they park after that?

“If we don’t get this sorted, we are going to take a deputation down to Downing Street.”

Mrs Thompson, 64, said she has to ring the city council and let them know when funerals corteges are leaving the flats, so family members are not given parking tickets.

Resident Jackie Graham, 45, uses a mobility car for son Lee, 24, who is disabled.

She often struggles to get parked, as disabled bays in the flat’s service area are also open to members of the public and quickly fill up.

“He is in and out of intensive care and parking when you come back is a nightmare,” she said.

“When you come back in the middle of the night, all the disabled bays are full.

“I’ve had a parking ticket already, which is £60, or £30 if you pay it in a fortnight.

“It is getting to the point where you are scared to move your car, because you are not going to get parked and the doctor has refused to come out because he can’t get parked.

“I’ve had to park at Millfield before and walk down in the middle of the night.”

Phil Veitch, who has lived in the tower block for 38 years, said a vital visit by Northumbria Water was almost cancelled after the worker was unable to find a parking bay close to the tower.

Other residents have seen cars parking on double yellow lines and double parking in a bid to get a space, which they fear could cause problems if emergency services were called out.

James Newell, Assistant Head of Streetscene (Network Management) at the City Council, said: “We are always ready to listen to any resident’s parking concerns and would invite anyone any Astral, Solar or Planet House resident to contact us directly on tel. 520 5555 so we can work together to address their concerns wherever possible.

“The council is currently considering the concerns of delivery vehicles and those of the medical profession.

“Parking provision for those living in any of Astral, Solar and Planet Houses is a main consideration within the redevelopment plans for this important city centre site, and we appreciate people’s patience while work continues.

“The new Central car park, which will be available for residents to use, is programmed to open within the next four to six weeks dependant upon the weather.

“We will continue to work hard to minimise inevitable disruption.”

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