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Controversy surrounding student parking on campus continued last month with approximately fifty £30 parking penalties issued along Hazelrigg Lane. The notices were issued en masse to vehicles parallel parked, just off South-West campus, taking around £1500 from motorists, the majority of whom were students.
The penalties were incorrectly issued, with fines being quickly overturned upon appeal to Lancaster Magistrates’ Court. Andrew Green, a Grizedale second year living on campus, was one of the motorists penalised. He had a ticket issued by the police. His fine was overturned within five minutes, and he said he felt that this vindicated his view that penalties have been incorrectly issued “like confetti on the local highways”. Such strong feeling is common among students, with parking permits for Alexandra Park available only on strict conditions, leading to many applications being turned down.
The University emphasises that their policy is intended “to ensure that those students who do need a car are eligible for a car parking permit”. Students with course-based activities or who work off campus who cannot reasonably reach their destination by public transport are the most likely to be awarded permits. However, even these are subject to stringent conditions relating to hours of work and depending on various pieces of evidence.
Green has himself had an application denied. For him and other Lancaster students who are active members of Lakes Gliding Club, based at Barrow-in-Furness, being without a car is not an option. With fewer than twenty Lancaster University members the club has not been recognised as a society by LUSU. Criterion 9b of the University’s Parking Policy, which qualifies society members for Alexandra Park permits if their key activity cannot be performed on campus, therefore doesn’t apply to the Gliding Club. As such, Green has been turned down for a permit for the last two years, leading him to park on Hazelrigg Lane.
Green said “I will not pay the current rate of £450 a year to park on campus [using pay and display tickets] when permits are about £52. I feel Lancaster University is discriminating against minority sports here”.
Student parking permits, available through the Security Department, are awarded only for Alexandra Park on South West Campus, except for disabled students who may need them in a more convenient location. This in itself is cause for contention, being something of an irritation for residents of Lancaster’s northern-most colleges, County and Bowland.
Conflicting messages regarding parking from various authorities have also led to confusion. The University’s Parking Policy, available via the Security Department’s website, states that students without permits should not park on highways surrounding campus. However, PC Gary Wynne, beat manager for Lancaster University, stated “I am not opposed to vehicles parking there [on Hazelrigg Lane] so long as they are not parked on the double yellows or causing an obstruction. Parking in that location will not impact on local residents.”
PC Wynne, outlining his attitude to parking on roads surrounding campus, listed areas where motorists are encouraged not to park. These are Chapel Lane, Bailrigg Lane, Green Lane and the A6 parallel to campus, and are highlighted for reasons of safety and courtesy to local residents. Vehicles parked in these areas are being issued with a polite request not to park there in future.
“This is in response to numerous complaints received from residents over the last few months”, PC Wynne said. PC Wynne is now, however, reluctantly issuing tickets to vehicles not complying with parking regulations. He stressed that this was not specific to University users, but to any vehicles.
With parking on campus clearly at such a premium, and surrounded by so much contention, the University understandably encourages students who absolutely do not need to drive to leave their cars at home. The policy document on the Security Department website, for example, begins with an endorsement of the city’s bus service and cycle routes, stating that “most students find they do not need a car”.