“Rugby days make me really depressed. There are cars parked on both pavements, you can hardly move in your own street.”
It’s Friday night in Burley and Leeds Rhinos are at home – and the local resident complaining about parking looks up to the grey summer clouds, as if seeking some sort of divine intervention.
Matchday parking in these parts (and in Kirkstall and Queenswood Drive areas) has long been a bone of contention with locals.
There are strong feelings that attention is focussed on alleviating problems in Headingley’s streets – while Burley is the ‘forgotten area’.
The woman seeking divine intervention is joined by her husband in their driveway. He says:
“I’ve caught some fans trying to parking my drive. I’ve had to shoo them away before now. Some of them don’t care. There’s rubbish dropped all over the place on matchdays as well.”
People’s patience ran out a long time ago. You hear stories of shiftworkers having to alter sleeping patterns on matchdays because of parking problems.
Community activist Adele Rae said:
“Burley residents’ lives are being blighted by living in the shadow of Headingley stadium. People are being blocked in their own homes. Things need to change.”
Adele is also critical of charging fans to park in the Elida Gibbs field on matchdays, which she says belongs to local people, not corporate organisations.
Another resident posted their frustrations on Facebook:
“Matchdays are one of the main reasons I moved out of the area. I loved Burley and my old house but cars used to block our drive so we couldn’t get off it, so was a massive stress every time a match was on.”
@FionaVenner @johnillo @hanbithell why don’t you do anything to stop the illegal pavement parking in #Kirkstall during @leedsrhinos matches – how do #Wheelchair users & young mums with pushchairs walk safely down Talbot view #LEEDS cc @WLDispatch @RachelReevesMP pic.twitter.com/WNENF2is77
— Stuart Long (@StuartLong01) June 14, 2019
So what of local calls for permit parking in the area? And complaints about the use of the Elida Gibbs fields for matchday parking?
Well, the concerns about using the Elida Gibbs fields for parking have the support of Kirkstall councillors Hannah Bithell, John Illingworth and Fiona Venner. They said in a statement:
“We do not support the use of Elida Gibbs field for match day parking and feel the limited green space of inner city wards should be preserved for recreation. We will be urging the council to reconsider the decision to use Elida Gibbs for parking.
“Whilst we appreciate the inconvenience for residents when there are matches every two to three weeks during the sporting season; parking permits are used for areas which have daily parking problems, such as residential areas which are near a university or hospital.
“Only three residential streets immediately adjacent to Headingley Stadium have residents’-only parking. We will continue to work with local residents, our councillor colleagues in Headingley and the stadium management to find solutions to problems caused to local people by living near the stadium.”
A spokesman for Leeds City Council said:
“Following their request in 2017 to help with additional match day parking, Leeds Rugby consulted with residents living close to the Elida Gibbs recreation ground.
“Only a small number of residents responded and the council subsequently agreed that Elida Gibbs could be used for parking on match days to help ease the pressure on local roads.
“The current agreement, which runs until September, states that the field is used for match days only and is free to use for those with multiple passengers to encourage car sharing. It is not for corporate users.
“To date, we have not received any complaints regarding the agreement, but we are always happy for residents to get in touch so we can discuss any concerns or issues they may have.”
What do the Rhinos think about all this? A press officer suggested the Dispatch speak to Leeds City Council about the issue. An e-mail sent to stadium owners Caddick at the end of May hasn’t had a response yet.
It seems clear the fires of indignation over matchday parking continue to burn. A council report approving stadium renovation plans in 2017 claimed the plans wouldn’t add to parking problems in the area.
Some locals remain unconvinced…
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