RESIDENTIAL streets around Eden Court Theatre have been turned into danger zones because cheapskate motorists are refusing to pay to park at Highland Council headquarters.
Residents in the Ballifeary area of Inverness fear a child could be knocked down or worse as inconsiderate motorists abandon their vehicles on both sides of the roads, blocking driveways and making it difficult for people to cross safely.
Now they’ve taken matters into their owns hands by putting notes on vehicles parked dangerously and using cones to keep their driveways clear.
They say the situation has got worse since Highland Council introduced pay and display parking at its headquarters in Glenurquhart Road in March and it has pushed the problem onto their streets.
Eden House guest house owner Donald MacDonald has complained to the council on numerous occasions after watching ambulances struggle to negotiate Ballifeary Road to reach Elmgrove House Care Home because of cars parked on both sides of the road.
"Something needs to be done," he said. "In the last two weeks the parking has got audacious."
Retired postmaster George Henderson has lived on Ballifeary Road for 30 years and has never seen the parking situation so bad.
"I have my own drive to park in but it is emerging from it that is dangerous because of parked cars," he said. "Children can’t see between parked cars to cross, it only takes one to step out."
Parking charges were introduced at the council car park at the beginning of March, with parking meters due to be introduced at the adjoining Eden Court Theatre car park soon.
However, patrons of the theatre often use the council car park as overspill and now motorists are being left confused over how and where the new parking charges apply, with many drivers reportedly caught out.
The council could not confirm how many people had received £60 fixed penalty notices since the car parking charges were introduced.
However, figures for Inverness show a jump in the number issued across the city from 545 in February to 662 in March.
Yesterday the council confirmed it had received complaints from the residents of neighbouring streets and had issued questionnaires to residents in Ballifeary Road to get an understanding of the problem and find a solution. It is also investigating the possible introduction of permit parking on the street to alleviate the problem.
But Bill and Morag Gilbert, owners of Ballifeary Guest House, say street permits are not the answer.
"I don’t think permits will solve the issue, all the people who live here have driveways and people with permits will still park on both sides because of the location," said Mrs Gilbert. "There needs to be yellow lines on one side to help keep the road clear and the speed limit needs to be brought down to 20mph."
Iqbal Mohammed, owner of Whin Park Guest House in Ardross Street, added: "Common sense does not prevail, the council are happy to share our streets for free but not their car parks. It doesn’t matter that it is lying empty in the evening. It is selfish and it is making the streets busier."
Bill Boyd, chairman of Ballifeary Community Council, added the new parking arrangements had highlighted the "severe shortage" of parking in the west end of the city.
"It is becoming quite dangerous as people have moved their parking from the council and Eden Court to nearby streets," he said. "Parking permits will only help to an extent, parking measures move the issue on – there needs to be better bus services and a park-and-ride to help residents in the city centre."
The council car park has always been off-limits to the public during the day. The new arrangements mean it is permit only from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, meaning no members of the public can park. Pay and display applies from 4pm to 8am every day, and all day Saturday and Sunday.