Badly parked cars could cost someone's life

PUBLISHED: 15:46 11 September 2006 | UPDATED: 19:48 01 June 2010

The fire engine struggles through the streets

The fire engine struggles through the streets

Story by TOM JACKSON FIREMEN in Wisbech got one of their most unusual requests ever from the police -- to drive a fire engine through the town centre. The reason? To show the extent of badly or illegally parked cars which could one day cost someone s life

Another tight squeeze

Story by TOM JACKSON

FIREMEN in Wisbech got one of their most unusual requests ever from the police -- to drive a fire engine through the town centre.

The reason? To show the extent of badly or illegally parked cars which could one day cost someone's life.

So last Thursday I joined up with the crew as they began their town centre "assault", with PCSO Michelle Bax and Pc Stuart Norman walking in front to clear the way.

Guiding the vehicle through

Pc Norman, who organised the visit, explained that it was necessary to use a fire crew as it was vital to be able to drive through town without delays.

As the fire engine made its way along the short route from Hill Street to Bridge Street, PCSO Bax was on hand to point out the daily hazards thoughtless motorists were causing the emergency services.

"Everybody knows now that we have got an issue with parking in Wisbech," she said, "but rather than us telling people they are causing obstructions, we showed people the obstructions with the fire engine.

"It was not about catching people to issue parking tickets, but to highlight awareness of the obstructions."

It was just a short journey that should have taken a few seconds, but the firemen found themselves taking the best part of 20 minutes getting from start to finish, via Union Street, around part of the Market Place, Market Street and the Crescent.

Mark Southwood, crew manager at Wisbech fire station, said: "Our main objective is to be able to attend the scene safely, in the quickest amount of time. Vehicles being parked obstructively are creating problems for the fire service and delaying us attending emergencies.

"It is not just within the centre of the town, it is within the residential areas too. Perhaps people who park inconsiderately should think whether they would like people to park in such a manner that they do not block us from getting to their home. Seconds matter in our job."

The tour was part of the latest police clampdown on drivers who park in specific areas without holding the necessary permits or disabled badges. Anyone without the appropriate documentation is hit with a £30 fixed penalty notice.

Pc Norman also spent time stopping drivers using Hill Street, to talk and issue warnings to those parking in the town illegally.

"Over the last 11 months there have been over 700 tickets issued for parking offences within the areas mentioned," he said. "We will now be taking a proactive approach to deal with this problem, issuing tickets to anyone caught parking illegally.

"We are not prepared to put up with excuses from drivers in the future regarding the fact there is no visible sign or they are unaware they cannot park in the area.

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