Waste bosses and fire chiefs are asking Somerset motorists to put the brakes on problem parking this festive season.
The COVID-driven rise in home working has meant more access issues for collection trucks and fire engines as space on residential streets is at a premium.
And with the usual seasonal parking pressures on the way, it is feared that a difficult situation could get even worse. The cars are often legally parked, but in a way that makes it difficult for recycling and rubbish collections trucks to negotiate narrower streets.
If recycling crews cannot get through, fire engines will struggle too. The fire service is becoming increasingly concerned that its crews could be seriously delayed getting to an emergency incident, putting lives at risk.
As they did during the first lockdown, Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) are urging people to park considerately.
Collection crews are putting ‘please park carefully’ notes on the windscreens of problem parkers, just as fire crews do when they find themselves in a tight spot.
In October, SWP collection crews reported 269 incidents where collections were delayed or missed because they could not get to a home or a whole street because of the way someone had parked. During the November lockdown this has increased to more than 400.
These parking problems are being seen across the county, from small villages with narrow streets to new estates with many more people at home.
Mickey Green, Managing Director of SWP, said: “We know parking can be difficult when so many more people are at home, as they are over Christmas and New Year, but please think about how and where you park.
“A missed or delayed collection is a frustration, but a delayed fire engine is much more serious.”
Area Manager Gerald Taylor from DSFRS said: “Fires don’t wait for anything or anyone. If our fire engines are held up by badly parked cars, it will mean the incident has progressed further, increasing the risk of serious injury as well as more damage to property.”
When parking, The Service is asking people when parking their vehicle to:
- Park close to the kerb
- Leave enough space for a fire engine or an ambulance to pass
- Leave extra room near tight corners
- Fold in your wing mirror
For the latest information about services and any disruption visit www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/coronavirus and follow @somersetwaste on Twitter and Facebook.