Glengormley fire appliance call outs hindered by ‘shocking parking’

Firefighters are being delayed from answering emergency calls by careless drivers in Glengormley town centre, it has been revealed.
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Station Commander Johnny Wilkinson told a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council that parking in front of the station at Church Road has got “considerably worse” during the past few months.

He has highlighted a problem with cars double parking during drop-off and pick-up times at the neighbouring Glengormley Integrated Primary School, motorists parking on double yellow and zigzag lines outside the fire station and shoppers “abandoning” cars on the narrow street.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The parking along there is shocking. At school pick-up and drop-off times, they just park cars in front of the station.”

Glengormley Fire Station. Pic by Google.Glengormley Fire Station. Pic by Google.
Glengormley Fire Station. Pic by Google.

Nigel Arnold, principal of Glengormley Integrated Primary School, acknowledged that the school “continues to struggle to even keep clear the area directly in front of the pedestrian gates to allow for buses to load and off-load children safely”.

However, he stated: “Much of the difficulty is caused by non-parents parking for the full day in areas adjacent to the school and fire station, even on the pavement.

“This is a daily problem even for the school to allow access for larger vehicles to enter through their gates for essential work – grounds maintenance, etc.

“Historically a bad decision was taken to sell North Eastern Education and Library Board land to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to site a blue light service opposite a primary school main entrance.

“Then to close the road and make it dead end with only one way in and out, only enhanced the problem.  Residents and shop owners parking cars on the street continues to make matters even worse.

“This has been an ongoing problem for over a decade for the school n which all agencies have continue to discuss possible solutions but to date few have been delivered.

“We have had new signs from PCSP which go out on yellow school road markings to reinforce the areas for parents not to park to collect children. We have a “kiss and go” policy in practice with no parents permitted in the playground to drop off – small children are collected internally still – to reduce car collection duration.

“We encourage traffic wardens and police presence to reinforce road safety compliance regulations. We have suggested options to DfI like re-opening the dead end and making the road a through-road, but all of these have fallen on deaf ears to date.

“The school has continued to liaise with all stakeholders to try to find a solution that works for all.  But no-one seems willing to move or compromise and no-one wants to pay for it.

“The school did not create this problem and it cannot be solely the school to try to solve the problem.”

The station commander reported that fire appliances have been delayed leaving the street on twice during the past few months.

Recalling a recent incident, he said that the appliance could not get along the street which has a cul de sac at one end due to double parking.

People are very careless. They have scant regard where they park. Sometimes we have to ask drivers to remove abandoned vehicles.”

“The appliance sat there for five minutes with lights and sirens until people came back to their cars.

“Where there is life at risk, you can reasonably expect there could possibly be an increased chance of fatalities.”

He has urged motorists who are parking at Church Road to show consideration.

“A fire appliance does need to get out. If it is turning out of the station with lights and horns on, we are going to an emergency. During these situations, seconds do count.”

He indicated that a meeting is to be held next month to highlight the severity of the parking issue to local elected representatives, the PSNI and neighbouring school.

SDLP Glengormley councillor Noreen McClelland said: “This is a vital service . At all times, the entrance to the fire station needs to be clear so that in an emergency fire crews can get out. It is critical.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.