RESIDENTS who live near a factory say their lives are being made a misery by workers parking in their street.

The Explorer Group provides ample car parking for its 450 staff but some are choosing instead to park on Sunningdales, in Delves Lane, Consett.

Householders have collected 70 names on a petition calling for a residents-only parking scheme.

Malcolm Agnew said: "A lot of people on the estate are old and it is getting to the point where ambulances cannot get though. It is putting lives at risk.

"Then when there is a funeral you have to have to give the police three days notice so they can put cones down so the hearse and cortege can get through. People have asked them not to park here but you they just ignore you."

Mr Agnew said that the workers parked in the street to make a quick getaway after their shifts.

Community beat officer PC Jonathan Hamill was yesterday expected to assess the volume of traffic and whether it was safe to have many cars parked there. He was also checking whether emergency services and refuse collectors could get through safely.

Explorer Group has asked its workers to use its car park to maintain good relations in the community.

Finance director Rob Quine said: "The company understands how upset the residents feel about the situation but we do not have any means to tackle this issue. The company has a car park for employees to use and have respectfully requested that they use it more than occasion.

A spokesman for Durham County Council said: "If specific locations of access are being obstructed, then we will take action."