Green plan drives residents crazy

University angers neighbours as scheme to cut campus traffic clogs roads, reports Zoe Corbyn

December 11, 2008

A "green parking scheme" set up by Leeds Metropolitan University has caused tensions with local residents.

The initiative, introduced by Leeds Met last August, bars staff from parking on the campus unless they pay for a permit, and students are restricted to 170 paid spaces in an off-campus car park.

But residents living near the university's Headingley campus say the scheme has simply pushed cars out of the university grounds and on to the surrounding residential streets.

The result is that the streets have become in effect "the Leeds Met car park", some locals have complained, citing obstructive parking, dangerous driving and gridlock as cars circulate looking for space. Double yellow lines introduced by the council to try to alleviate the problem on some streets have merely extended the areas afflicted, they say.

Campaigns are being co-ordinated by the West Park Residents Association and by the Glen Road Residents Revolt (GRRR).

The local MP called a meeting of about 35 residents late last month to consider the issue. A private report of the meeting produced by some residents says that if the vice-chancellor had been present he "would have been lynched". "Unfortunately he lives on the campus, so we cannot obstruct his drive," it adds.

David Lloyd Hughes, a GRRR organiser and local resident, told Times Higher Education that he and his neighbours had trouble getting out of their gates because of the cars. "I live on a tiny side road that has become a car park ... and that applies for an area a mile in diameter," he said.

He described Leeds Met as an "appallingly bad neighbour" and "impervious to criticism". "They have got their green transport plan and they don't care (about us)," he said.

In a statement, Stephen Willis, director of finance and resources at Leeds Met, said: "We recognise that, as one of Leeds' biggest employers, we have a responsibility to ensure that we encourage viable alternative options to car travel for our staff and students.

"Our traffic management strategy was launched in August 2007 following consultation with students, staff and unions. A priority of the strategy was to move from single-occupancy car journeys to other viable alternatives.

"The university has made significant investments into cycling facilities at both of its campuses, resulting in a 25 per cent increase in cycling at our Headingley campus. Our 'liftshare' scheme now saves 61,477 miles of staff travel and the passenger numbers on the local 92 bus service have increased by over 63 per cent."

zoe.corbyn@tsleducation.com.

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