Students face strict criteria over car parking permits

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Students wishing to bring their cars to university have been struggling for permits to park on campus. Due to limited space, students who want to park their cars on campus must conform to very tight criteria.

Parking restrictions apply on campus between 8am and 6pm from Monday to Friday, making it impossible for students to leave their cars during the week without paying £3 a day pay and display.

Students and staff alike must apply for a permit to park on site and purchase this permit if they are eligible. For the academic year 2009-2010, a standard permit, limiting students to parking spaces on Alexandra Park, cost £52.

A spokesperson for the University said that restrictions on permits are put in place in an effort to ‘help manage demand for car parking on campus. The University tries to ensure that those with the greatest need for having a car on campus are eligible for a permit’. The number of parking permits issued to students to date for this coming academic year is 591.

Priority is given to students deemed to be most in need of a permit such as those with reduced mobility or family members who are ill, students who have recently been bereaved and students with children. Other exceptions are made where the student carries out volunteering work as part of their course outside of the Lancaster ‘urban core’. Society membership and the need for a car to transport sports teams can also influence a student’s application. But many students have still had problems gaining permits.

One such student was Claire Pearson, a second-year Psychology student. After getting a job in an after school programme with a company called Mad Science, she thought she had found the perfect accompaniment to her studies, as well as an ideal placement to help her into the teaching career she wanted to pursue in the future. However, the number of hours she worked over the course of a week did not meet the ten hours necessary to qualify for a parking permit, even though she was required to visit a variety of schools around the country. Without a parking permit she would have been unable to accept the placement. She took her argument as far as she could without any success before the careers service stepped in to help.

“Luckily I have my permit now, but if I hadn’t have got it I wouldn’t be able to be doing pretty much my dream job. Careers really helped me fight my case, they are amazing and I’m so thankful to them,” she said.

Pearson was not the only student who had to struggle to get her permit. Another student, living off-campus, told SCAN that despite tutoring and working in her college bar for several hours a week she was not deemed eligible for a permit.

“I had to work the system a little bit to get it,” she said. “However, I think I should have been able to get one with much more ease. The people in the car parking office weren’t very co-operative when I explained [my situation].”

It is not just students who have to apply for car parking permits. A new scheme has been introduced for staff who are able to car share. Where two or more cars are registered for one permit, the cost is reduced and the permit is valid for parking zones closer to the main facilities.

In 2007, a survey of all university staff showed that 50% lived within five miles of the university and 95% of car sharing was arranged informally.

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