Residents and business owners in Mount Florida and Scotstoun are up in arms over unenforced parking restrictions on match days. They’ve been speaking to DEREK MURDOCH
A residents’ association in the West End has lodged a petition with Glasgow City Council against illegal parking in their streets during Glasgow Warriors rugby fixtures.
Victoria Park Residents’ Association have become increasingly concerned at the manner of some supporters’ parking – and have produced photographic evidence of cars parked on lowered kerbs, at bus stops and even blocking back lanes to back up their case.
Prof John Winfield, the Association’s chairman, said: “The parking from [Glasgow] Warriors is largely concentrated in this area, and it gets a little bit beyond a joke when you can’t get your car into your own frontage. More importantly, if you’ve got visitors and they can’t park anywhere near – that’s the nub of it.
“That’s how it’s manifest and we as a residents’ association [have] made various representations to the city, without response. And so, the next stage is to collect a large number of signatures on a petition and send the documents, and if [they] think it’s a reasonable case, then [it’ll] go before the committee – and we’re waiting to hear when that hearing will be.
“When the stadium was expanded, before [the] Warriors came, all that little bit surrounding the sports campus [were] issued with parking permits. Visitors, if they chose, could buy one-off permits, costing £10, and that would enable them to [park there].
“There is a small car park available at St Thomas Aquinas [Secondary School], that I guess gets filled up pretty quickly.
“That is one of the reasons people park down here – and our petition is essentially to ask for equality for all the area surrounding the campus.”
Glasgow Warriors are in their fourth season at Scotstoun, having previously played their home games at Hughenden and Firhill. They have enjoyed the most successful spell in their history since moving to the venue, becoming the first Scottish team to win the Pro 12 championship last season.
That form saw the stadium’s capacity steadily expanded to accommodate new interest in the club, with the original capacity increased to 7,244 last February for the league run-in as the Warriors sought to secure top spot in the league, and expanded further to 10,000 in May for both the final home league game and ensuing play-off semi-final, both against Ulster.
The Warriors’ average attendance at Scotstoun so far this season is 6,590, with the team struggling to replicate their form of last season.
But Prof Winfield was adamant that any plans to resolve the parking situation in the area would have to take into account the possibility of further success for the Warriors in the future, adding: “Of course, if you have a popular team, the pull increases. If you follow rugby, all the European teams have capacities of about 15,000, so we are working on that as a likely figure, because they’re going to want to expand and expand to get a decent crowd. You don’t want to have a solution based on a failing team!”
A similar system to that operating around Scotstoun has been in place around Hampden since the Commonwealth Games, and is kept under review by Mount Florida Community Council (MoFloCoCo), who conduct regular surveys as part of an ongoing project to change the general parking and traffic controls around the Mount Florida area.
Businesses in the vicinity of the stadium have been impacted by parking controls put in place around events such as cup finals and internationals, and Joan Perry, MoFloCoCo’s secretary, indicated that the problem with the system lies not just in enforcement but in a lack of sufficiently robust sanctions.
“It is supposed to be an automatic fine for parking within the zone without a permit, but it hasn’t been very well policed in the past.
“But we’ve contacted LES (Land and Environment Services) and they said they were going to police it better in [future].
“The fine’s only £30 – you could get four in a car, and there’s no actual penalty points on your licence, it’s just a parking fine. So is it that much of a deterrent?
“There’s also a cost balance – there’s only so many traffic wardens [the council] can put out at a given time, and it’s [a question of] how long it can take to get around everywhere.”
The impact on local businesses has been particularly significant in Cathcart Road to the immediate west of the stadium, with one shop manager – who did not wish to be identified – feeling that the current system kills trade in the area, and that the stadium’s operators do not have sufficient respect for the local community.
“They’ve got no respect at all for the businesses around here, I feel as if Hampden Park don’t put [anything back] into the community around here and it’s only for them and their events that are on there. They just come round, put signs up telling you you can’t park for [a] football match that lasts an hour and a half.
“The restrictions for parking can be about 11.30am until about 6.30pm – which is the whole day for our business. It’s just an absolute nightmare. It’s killing the streets, and killing the trade.
“It could end up a wee bit like Victoria Road – an awful lot of shops shutting and things like that.”
The area surrounding Scotstoun is overwhelmingly residential, but the Victoria Park case is largely the same, with Prof Winfield indicating that while his organisation did not begrudge the Warriors their success, the residents in the area were going to feel “let down” if things are left as they are.
One possible means of alleviating the problem would be to run buses to the venue, as happened during the Commonwealth Games, although there are practical hurdles that would have to be overcome in implementing such a scheme. The possibility of a dedicated railway station serving the Scotstoun Sports Campus – in a similar manner to Mount Florida station with Hampden – has also been mooted, but when contacted for comment Transport Scotland confirmed that such a development is not part of their current infrastructure investment plans, which run until 2019.
MoFloCoCo, however, believe education has a big part to play and that more could be done to raise awareness of other transport options available to supporters.
Ms Perry said: “What we’re trying to get Hampden to do is to advertise on their website that there’s no parking around [the stadium], and to advertise what the options for public transport are.
“Maybe that’s what Scotstoun should look at – self advertising.”
The petition by Victoria Park Residents’ Association is currently going through the council’s validation process and is likely to be heard by the petitions committee in the late spring.
Despite the difficulties and timescale involved, however, Prof Winfield remains optimistic that a long-term solution can be found.
“We’re trying to be reasonable [about] it, we’re trying to be friendly about it, but push is going to come to shove before too long. Sooner or later, one hopes, everybody will sit round a table and hammer out some sort of solution that’s acceptable to everybody – but it’s got a while to run.”