Parking on St Neots housing estate causes obstructions for fire engine en route to arson attack

Bevington Way the day after the fire, showing the issue of parked cars on the road.

Bevington Way the day after the fire, showing the issue of parked cars on the road. - Credit: Archant

Parked cars on the narrow roads of a St Neots housing estate could be putting lives at risk after a fire engine met with obstructions on its way to an arson attack.

At 1.40am on Thursday (July 31), firefighters were called to a three-car fire in Bevington Way – part of the Eynesbury Manor development – where the flames were spreading to a nearby block of garages.

But rather than heading straight to the scene of the fire, firefighters had to carefully manoeuvre their vehicle around parked cars, mounting the kerbs to get to the address and put out the flames.

A Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said while parked cars had not prevented crews from getting to any incidents, firefighters had previously experienced issues accessing properties on the estate.

Jon Paul Jones, watch commander, said: “This was a car fire that was started deliberately and quickly spread to other nearby cars and garages.

“We got to the incident as quickly as possible, but did encounter some obstructions due to parked vehicles. We would encourage residents to make sure they leave plenty of space when parking, particularly at junctions, to ensure fire engines can manoeuvre safely.”

Gemma Manton, 31, a barber of Bevington Way, said: “People should park in their parking spaces – it is a bit of a nightmare.

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“If they did put down yellow lines, where would our visitors park? It is going to make it a bigger nightmare.”

Another Bevington Way resident, who did not wish to be named, said that the parking problem was initially caused by the developer building narrow roads to cram in more houses, and secondly because people wanted to park directly outside of their homes, rather than in allocated spaces which are often in car ports or garage areas.

He said: “I am extremely angry about it. We always park in the proper place with proper decorum towards the neighbours. When we moved in here we thought everyone would adhere to their own car parking spaces.

“Up until now we haven’t had any major issues, but seeing the car in flames and seeing the fire service delayed to get there just because of people’s parking has been an eye-opener.

“Double yellow lines might be a good thing in one respect so that people don’t park irresponsibly, but we do need to have a bit of give and take when we have events.”

Town councillor Louie Ruck added: “This is something that I have been hugely concerned about for a very long time. It is absolutely ludicrous – the fact that developments are still being built with roads that are narrow with inadequate parking is exacerbating this situation.”

She added that the town’s Neighbourhood Plan – which is currently subject to a district-wide consultation – has set out a requirement of one off-road parking space per bedroom, which must not be at the rear of properties, to prevent similar problems in the future.

She added: “Human behaviour has demonstrated that people will park outside of their houses, regardless. What needs to happen is adequate parking – you are talking about people’s lives now being endangered.

“I don’t know what can be done now. I think it is going to have to be something like double yellow lines.

“Going forward in terms of new development, planning needs to be a lot smarter to allow for this.”

INFORMATION: If you have information about the arson attack, call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

What can be done to avoid narrow roads on new estates being blocked by parked cars? Or is it too late for the developments that have already been built? Email your views to