Families living near Leeds United’s stadium are fuming over the scrapping of a matchday residents’ parking scheme designed to stop football fans’ cars clogging up their streets, according to a councillor.
Wortley Green party councillor Ann Blackburn, and Beeston and Holbeck’s Labour councillor Angela Gabriel, said the proposed scheme to alleviate congestion near homes in their wards had been cancelled after several years of foot-dragging by council officials.
They say families are furious at the decision, and alternative proposals for stronger enforcement would be ignored as they currently are.
Matchday parking near the stadium has always been an issue, and was made worse after the redevelopment of the new police HQ on Elland Road on land previously used as a car park for fans.
“Myself and my fellow ward councillors are appalled that local residents have been led up the garden path for all this time thinking that the scheme was going to come into fruition only to have their hopes dashed at the last hurdle,” councillor Blackburn said.
She added that one of the reasons given for the scrapping of the scheme - a low response rate from locals to a consultation - was unacceptable, and suggested that people had been misled into believing the plan was all but certain.
The YEP reported yesterday that plans to convert the existing Fullerton Road car park into a new football training ground had been provisionally approved by Leeds City Council’s cabinet. However Coun Blackburn said this would exacerbate the problems for residents and “make the current impossible situation even worse” for locals.
Coun Gabriel added: “It’s a really bad idea to get rid of it. We were promised this three years ago.
“I am very disappointed that it’s not going to happen. Leeds United want to go up to the Premier League and to expand. It can’t just be a win-win for them. We have to get something out of it for the community.”
The original consultation papers say: “The match day residents permit parking scheme is intended to remove problematic parking and improve the area for residents and businesses. “The scheme should be in place by September 2016, but may be delayed if objections and legal challenges are received.”
The council has previously acknowledged that the building of the police headquarters on Elland Road “has resulted in a loss of car parking spaces which were used for match day parking” and that measures should be put in place “to mitigate the loss” as well as to crack down on “indiscriminate parking [which] is creating issues”.
RESIDENTS’ PARKING PLAN ‘WOULD HAVE JUST MOVED THE PROBLEM ON’
Putting in new residents’ parking schemes in the streets around Leeds United’s ground would just move the problem on rather than solving it, a senior councillor has said.
Responding to concerns about the scrapping of the planned scheme around Elland Road stadium, coupled with the loss of spaces from the Fullerton Road training ground development, councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “There are always car parking issues around big sporting arenas.
“You have the same in Headingley.
“Simply introducing more and more residents parking schemes is not the solution. The scheme that was proposed would have moved the problem a few streets on.
“That’s kicking the can down the road, it’s not solving a problem.
“One of the problems is that the club has not engaged with us, and we haven’t engaged with them, about how people get to it.
“I’m not going to say we will end up with a perfect solution to the parking problems around Elland Road, because there will always be people who want to come by car.
“But we have to engage with other solutions, and not think that sticking up a lot of poles in the area is going to change the world.”
Conservative group leader Andrew Carter said he supported the Fullerton Road training ground plan but urged the council not to ignore the loss of “a considerable amount of car parking that affects residents in the area”.
“As the football clubs prospers, the crowds are likely to get bigger,” he said. “A reduction in the car parking will not help. Less parking on the training ground will create a knock on effect for residents.”
‘JUST BUILD A MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK’
Councillor Stewart Golton, leader of the Lib Dem group at Leeds City Council, said it was time for the authority to actively get behind the idea of a new multi-story car park in the area.
He stressed that with a new man in charge at Leeds United who is “extending the hand of friendship”, the council should grasp it, but extend an “enabling hand” back.
“By bringing these facilities into the city to get them nearer to the supporters, don’t forget the immediate community surrounding the actual venue,” he said.
“We still need to manage the displacement factor.
“The fact that it has taken us five years to get nowhere since the police building was built in terms of getting a solution for local residents is not a good sign.
“This is a good opportunity for us to take a professional look at managing the car parking in that area.”