Part of Chesterfield town centre could be made a restricted zone for parking.
Derbyshire County Council is considering changes to restrictions in the New Square area of the town where drivers often park illegally and inconsiderately – compromising pedestrian safety and access for emergency vehicles.
Currently, the area is controlled by signs allowing traders access for loading and unloading only. In addition, disabled badge holders are permitted to park in designated areas.
Under the council’s plans, the area would be made a restricted zone, which would see loading and unloading of vehicles banned between 10am and 4pm. Additionally, police powers would be handed to the council’s civil parking enforcement officers – allowing them to spend more time keeping the area free of illegally-parked vehicles.
The council has received an objection to its proposals – meaning it could now spend up to £30,000 on a public inquiry to determine the plans.
A council spokesman said: “There are already traffic restrictions in place in this area but enforcing the regulations, which is currently tasked to the police, has proved difficult and unauthorised parking has led to complaints from pedestrians, shopkeepers and the emergency services.
“We believe the best way forward is to make the area a restricted zone, which would see loading and unloading of vehicles prohibited between 10am and 4pm. This change would also incorporate a handover of parking enforcement duties from the police to our civil parking enforcement officers who could dedicate more time to keeping the area free of illegally-parked vehicles.
“Following a public consultation on our plans we received one objection, which means by law an independent public inquiry must be held. This is currently being planned but no date has yet been set.”
Inspector John Turner, who is in charge of policing in the Chesterfield area, added: “The county council is currently going through a public consultation exercise in respect of proposed changes to the parking restrictions in the New Square area. In the meantime, whenever they are able, officers continue to both educate and carry out enforcement against drivers who are seen driving into the area.
“It is currently a moving traffic offence rather than one of parking. This is one of the reasons why changes are being considered to enable the county council’s parking enforcement officers to be able to take action against vehicles which are illegally parked.
“I would like to remind drivers of the importance of parking legally and considerately and with respect for others using the area. Motorists should only enter through the ‘no vehicle’ signs at the top of Glumangate if they have legitimate access for loading and unloading, access to private car parks or blue badges.
“Vans and lorries should leave the area after they have loaded or unloaded. Vehicles causing an obstruction will be dealt with, bearing in mind that the fire service may need access in an emergency situation.
“Officers will take action against anyone found breaching the current restrictions to help us ensure the safety of people in Chesterfield town centre.”
In 2014, a woman collapsed and ambulance crews struggled to get to her because of the high number of parked vehicles in the area.