Riverside resident Marueen Symons attended Cambridge’s East Area Committee on the 10th of April. In the presence of Cambridgeshire Police’s Inspector Poppet, and councillors from Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council Symons admitted to installing a concrete planter on the highway on Riverside to try and deter people parking in front of her house and obstructing her view of the river.
Astonishingly neither the police nor councillors challenged, or condemned, Symons’ actions.
In addition to installing the planter; Symons described how she has been writing letters to those parking their vehicles on the road. I recently saw one of these missives sellotaped to the window of a van:
I thought it might be helpful to explain about the current problems with parking and The Vision for Riverside. Until about a year ago, cars were parked at right angles to the railings in the corner. During the day those wishing to access the playground; go for a walk; eat their lunch in the pleasant surroundings; visit my row of cottages 85-89 etc, parked temporarily PARALLEL to the railings. This made it possible to walk safely, close to the river and provided more views, as longer spaces were needed for exit.
However, drivers began to think that right angled parking was the norm, until cars reached beyond the entrance to Stanley Rd. Many of the cards remained all day and sometimes attracted penalty notices. Then my neighbours and I noticed more and more bikes being retrieved from boots. Finally cars were being parked in front of this row of cottages, which needs on street parking.
Additionally, I am disabled, spending most of my life in bed downstairs. I therefore put a planter opposite which now protects my view of the river and beyond. I have also talked with drivers about parking thoughtfully. Once aware, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response. Workers passed on my message to colleagues and more cars were parked parallel, or alternative places were found. The reduction in parking means pedestrians can now walk safely along the river in pleasant surroundings for the WHOLE of Riverside.
In 2014 there will be a consultation on Riverside. Pay and Display and Residents parking are envisaged. However if cars are parked safely, with respect for residents and this river walk the current facility may remain.
Maybe you could park unobtrusively oppose continuing the existing line – PARALLEL, please. Then maybe other drivers will get the message!
My Views and Comments
- If Maureen Symons’ actions are left unchallenged it would be the road to chaos; the democratic system and the rule of law would be undermined. Any changes to the highway need to be done via due democratic process and not direct action.
- In the first instance the police and councils should ask Maureen Symons to remove her obstruction; and if she fails to do so in a timely manner, send her the bill for the removal and look into the options for prosecuting her.
- I think there is an edge of blackmail and threat in Maureen Symons’ letter; suggesting that if those parking don’t comply with her wishes charges may be introduced. I think this is menacing and inappropriate.
- I’ve personally experienced a small lorry parking for weeks on end right outside my lounge window when living in Cambridge. It’s annoying but I would never dream of thinking I had a right to take action to prevent it from happening.
- Perhaps if Maureen Symons had explained her situation to councillors they could have come up with a reasonable solution, perhaps offering to permit a sign on the railings in-front of her property asking those considering parking there to consider not doing so. I don’t know enough about Maureen Symons’ situation to know if she would have gained the support of councillors, but it appears possible they would have considered something like that a humane and reasonable option.
- The County Council do allow those who are disabled, and who live on roads like Riverside where parking is unregulated, to have a marked disabled space placed outside their property. I wonder if this is an option for Maureen Symons’. Though I don’t think it would be appropriate to provide such a space if the intent was to use another space and leave the designated one empty for the view.
- Riverside is a major cycle and pedestrian route. I would like to see the improvements made at the Midsummer Common end of the road extended to properly connect the Midsummer and Stourbridge Commons with a roadway designed to give the vast majority of its users: cyclists and pedestrians, priority.
- I would support some quite dramatic changes to improve the environment of the area and make the most of the riverside setting; for example inspired by the Riverside in Chester, creating a river level footpath for a stretch, providing safe easy access to boats, while maintaining the overall level of the bank for flood protection.
- Given the vast majority of users of Riverside are passing through I think it’s important the views of residents are not given too much weight when councillors are considering changes to the road environment there (or anywhere else).
- I like Richard Jennings’ proposals for experimenting with different options for Riverside.
- There are problems of a nuisance being caused in a number of places around the city with people using streets to store vehicles for a long time; people using streets to park large numbers of vehicles for businesses and hobbies, and even people living in vehicles parked on the roads.
Abbey ward’s County Councillor Joan Whitehead responded to Maureen Sumons at the East Area Committee only to say that introducing residents parking at that end of Riverside might be expensive due to the fact it is not adjacent to an existing residents parking zone. The County Council has a policy of residents parking zones being self-financing and Cllr Whitehead said a small zone requiring its own dedicated enforcement officer would not be viable.