It’s the start of a new football season, and we see the return of some of the less welcoming aspects of living near to a Premier League football stadium (Old Trafford).
We’ve lived near to Manchester United for close to 10 years now, and as many do in the Stretford area, we’re very familiar with the issues that come with it. Match-day traffic congestion, parking problems, littering and various types of anti-social behaviour.
Trafford Council and local groups such as Love Gorse Hill have been trying to tackle the littering and anti-social behaviour, asking visitors to respect the area they’re visiting, and it appears to be working.
The match-day resident parking scheme run by Trafford Council in the area around the football stadium has been pretty successful too. On match days, the resident parking zones are regularly patrolled by traffic wardens, with Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) being issued for any motor vehicle not displaying a permit or ticket.
We live on the edge of the parking scheme and I can say we’ve never had any problems with match-day parking. There’s some hassle in renewing your permit each year, particularly as Trafford Council are often running behind schedule. But this is a small price to pay.
In addition to this, there are official match-day car parks in the area. Many of these use locations like school playgrounds to provide parking, so it means some of the visitors’ money goes directly to local organisations.
So what’s the problem?
As good as all this is, there’s one significant problem, many people know they can park for free, close to the football ground in Trafford Park. The area of Trafford Park borders the Old Trafford stadium to the west. It is predominantly an industrial estate, but it also has many leisure facilities and is close to the Intu Trafford Centre and MediaCityUK.
As Trafford Council have sensibly implemented parking restrictions across much of Trafford Park, visitors therefore park their motor vehicles on the pavement, in cycle lanes, on roundabouts etc. Basically, anywhere they can find that isn’t the road.
Visitors are able to do this, safe in the knowledge they won’t get a PCN. Trafford Council don’t seem to patrol the area or issue tickets.
As there are parking restrictions, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say it’s up to Trafford Council to deal with it and that they cannot get involved, even if cars are obstructing the pavement.
In addition to the lack of enforcement, a lot of the road markings are in a pretty poor state of repair, and could be easily challenged if a PCN was issued. Given Trafford’s lack of interest in enforcing the parking restrictions, it’s hardly surprising.
So why this lack of interest from Trafford Council when it comes to Trafford Park, given their keenness in enforcing the resident parking zones? Do they just think that because it’s Trafford Park, it doesn’t affect anyone? Or is it because they don’t want to upset Manchester United?
So does it affect anyone? Well, this isn’t a residential area, but there’s still plenty of people walking and cycling through there. Routes through Trafford Park connect the rest of Manchester to MediaCityUK and Intu Trafford Centre, both big areas of employment.
With pavements and cycleways blocked, you’re forced onto the road. As Trafford Park is an industrial estate with a container terminal, much of the traffic on the roads are large trucks. Not the kind of traffic you want to be walking or cycling with.
Other effects are less obvious. Trafford, by their actions are essentially subsidising free parking. They are encouraging people to drive to the match instead of using sustainable forms of transport (public transport, walking and cycling). This leads to increased traffic congestion and air pollution.
We already know the A56, the main route to Old Trafford has high levels of pollution and Defra have said urgent action is needed. Studying the data on GreatAir Manchester, you can see that match-day traffic is equivalent to regular peak-time traffic.
A lot of money is being spent on building the new Metrolink Trafford Park Line (TPL), connecting Trafford Park, the football stadium and the Intu Trafford Centre with the Metrolink network. This will be a welcome addition, but on match days, will anyone use it when there’s subsidised free parking?
We need Trafford Council to enforce the parking restrictions, so that those driving see the real cost of using their cars and maybe choose a more sustainable way to get to the match.
Well, it turns out this isn’t just a match-day problem. As you can see from the following tweet, people are parking on the pavement and verges of Warren Bruce Road on week days when there’s no match. I assume the people parking here are doing so to access Salford Quays and MediaCityUK, probably for work.
As with the match-day traffic, Trafford Council seem unwilling to do anything about it. We know from the awful Stretford public realm scheme, Trafford put the needs of cars before the needs local residents. Is it just another example of the council putting motor traffic before people?