DOZENS of cars have continued to illegally park outside a North East garage every day despite concerns raised to the council eleven months ago, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Customers' cars and company vehicles have continued to be left parked on double-yellow lines and the cycle path outside O'Connors Garage on Durham Road, Sunderland.

This week, vehicles were spotted continuing to cause obstructions, often blocking a part of the left-hand carriageway, pedestrian crossings - and even a pedestrian island.

The Northern Echo: Picture: CONTRIBUTORPicture: CONTRIBUTOR

The Northern Echo: Picture: CONTRIBUTORPicture: CONTRIBUTOR

It comes as Sunderland City Council was initially urged to act back in January after residents claimed chaotic scenes on a daily basis was an "accident waiting to happen."

Read more: 'Accident waiting to happen': Car garage slammed after A690 'blocked' by customers' cars

At the time, residents from across both sides of the A690 Durham Road raised concerns that "inconsiderate and dangerous" parking could lead to injury, or potentially death.

Since then The Echo has been made aware of further concerns - including "near misses" and wheelchair users unable to cross the road safely - occuring almost every day.

Last month, a Freedom of Information request was submitted to Sunderland City Council asking it to confirm whether any Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) had been issued. 

The Northern Echo: Picture: CONTRIBUTORPicture: CONTRIBUTOR

The Northern Echo: Picture: CONTRIBUTORPicture: CONTRIBUTOR

Read more: Anger as council issues barely ONE parking fine a month despite 'dangerously' parked cars at garage

That came after the council faced allegations that traffic wardens were not enforcing the rules, allegedly allowing illegal parking to go unchallenged and without fine.

The Freedom of Information request appeared to suggest the number of fines issued did not tally with the number of illegally parked cars, with figures revealing the equivalent of less than one fine per month had been issued.

At the time, the council said it was "aware" of the parking issues, while reinforcing that it did carry out regular checks for contraventions in this part of Sunderland.

However, the figures showed just six PCNs were issued outside the garage between September and the start of 2021, while 21 were issued in 2020, 28 issued in 2019 and just 21 issued in 2018.

The Northern Echo: Picture: CONTRIBUTORPicture: CONTRIBUTOR

The Northern Echo: Picture: CONTRIBUTORPicture: CONTRIBUTOR

The figures, which related to the starting point of the road where vehicles are parked, Mayfair Buildings also showed that out of all 13 appeals received, all were thrown out by the council over the same timeframe. 

Read more: Furious residents hit back at council's response over illegally-parked cars outside garage

Since June, the council has been at the centre of a complaint lodged to the ombudsman over its handling of the concerns raised by residents.

Residents, who received a response from their initial complaint to the council, claimed they were told there were no plans to install bollards or barriers, as seen on the other side to prevent illegal parking.

Meanwhile, they claimed there had been suggestion that the carriageway is made into one lane, which prompted fierce reaction and bold claims this would "reward" illegal activity.

The Northern Echo this week asked Sunderland City Council why the issue was still occurring and asked them whether there were plans for further action to be taken.  

In response, a spokesperson for Sunderland City Council last night said: “The council is aware of the situation with the garage in question and acknowledges the concerns raised.

“Officers from Parking Services carry out visits on a regular basis, and police officers have spoken with the business owner and staff.

"The council’s Civil Enforcement Officers attend the area as part of their daily patrol and if vehicles are noted to be parked on the double yellow lines, they are asked to move.

“Penalty charge notices are issued if a vehicle is not removed after the observation period has been carried out.

"A five minute observation period is required for private vehicles and twenty minutes observation time for commercial vehicles before a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) can be issued.

“For the period between January 1 to September 7, 2021 there were 142 recorded visits by the enforcement officers and 27 PCNs issued.

“There are a number of measures currently being considered by the council which could include the widening of the cycle lane and the reduction of the width of the carriageway to one lane at this location. 

"This would allow the provision of on road parking spaces to prevent vehicles parking in the cycle lane. 

“A detailed design is currently being drawn up for a proposed scheme but this can only commence after successful consultations have been carried out and appropriate funding secured.”

It is understood the vehicle parked in the pedestrian island as pictured in the article cannot be officially found in contravention of rules as it not parked on double-yellow lines. 

The Northern Echo approached O'Connors Garage for comment but they did not respond at time of publication.


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