Council to tackle fly-parking problems

By Ted JeoryA COUNCIL is to investigate ways of clearing village streets that have been blighted with cars fly-parked by cost-conscious tourists jetting off from a nearby airport.

By Ted Jeory

A COUNCIL is to investigate ways of clearing village streets that have been blighted with cars fly-parked by cost-conscious tourists jetting off from a nearby airport.

As the East Anglian Daily Times revealed last June, residents in Takeley have been angered by the number of people leaving their vehicles in their village to avoid paying car park charges at Stansted Airport one mile away.

Canny travellers have then been taking £9-return fare taxis to the terminal and so saving about £90 on 14-day car park charges at the airport.

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Feelings in the village, where there is a lack of parking controls, have been running so high that some tourists have returned from holiday to find their tyres deflated or cars vandalised.

It is now feared that the recent opening of the new A120, which allows faster access to Stansted Airport, is causing the fly-parking problem to spread further afield.

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Airport operator BAA set up a fly-parking hotline for concerned residents about a year ago, while also pledging to ask taxi companies to pick up only from inside houses in Takeley.

But when called by EADT on Saturday, an operator for Airportcarz, which is licensed to operate at the airport, said she would be willing to collect from an unspecified address in Hawthorn Close, Takeley, despite being told the traveller was not a resident and he would be fly-parking.

However, she did warn: "You're not really supposed to do that – the residents don't like it. We will take no responsibility for what happens to your car when you return to it."

Jamie Argent, manager at Airportcarz, said: "Your call seems to have slipped through the net. I'll be sending out a memo to all staff reminding them that we need an exact address to pick up.

"We do try to deter people from fly-parking but at the end of the day, it's up to the councils to set up new controls."

Overall, 187 incidents from 10 nearby towns and villages were reported to the BAA hotline during its first 12 months – with Takeley the worst affected with 77 calls.

A report for Uttlesford District Council's transport and highways committee meeting on January 13 said Takeley residents were suspicious of cars parked for a long time and of passengers unloading suitcases and then getting into a taxi.

Councillors are now expected to look at the possibility of introducing residents' parking schemes or "no waiting" restrictions in Takeley, although both would incur the traffic warden costs.

Trevor Allen, chairman of Takeley Parish Council, said: "Any scheme that helps but does not cause an inconvenience to residents is to be welcomed.

"I don't want my village being used as a car park – people have been returning to their vehicles at all ours, slamming doors and revving engines most inconsiderately."

Average long-term parking charges at Stansted Airport of £7.20 a day compare to £5 at Luton Airport, £8.40 at Gatwick Airport and £15 at Heathrow Airport.

No-one from BAA could be contacted for comment yesterday.

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