Fury over council report that blamed NHS workers for parking problems near Fairfield Hospital

Date published: 17 February 2021

A councillor has reacted with fury after a council report blamed NHS workers for parking problems near Fairfield Hospital.

The paper, which recommends a ‘no waiting at any time’ zone along a section of Bury and Rochdale Old Road, went before Heywood Township on Monday night (5 February).

The stretch of road in question falls within Heywood and Norden, meaning the scheme needs the approval of both Heywood township and Rochdale North township.

But the proposals have twice been rejected by Heywood councillors on the grounds the restrictions cover too large an area.

If approved the zone would effectively operate on both sides of the road, from the borough boundary to the former Melba Plastics site.

A Rochdale Council report says they are necessary to stop parked cars impeding traffic, reducing visibility, and blocking cycle lanes.

It adds that demand for parking on the proposed stretch of road ‘is generated by staff and visitors attending the nearby Fairfield General Hospital, where parking charges apply’.


The problems caused by parked cars on a section of Bury and Rochdale Old Road. Video: Arnie McNally


This sparked an angry response from North Heywood councillor Liam O’Rourke, when presented at a township committee meeting.

He said: “I find it utterly disrespectful this has come back to township in this fashion, we were very firm that the proposal is far too long.

“And to try and put blame on NHS staff at this moment in time is utterly reckless from the council. I can’t believe you have come to us with that to be honest.”

Councillor O’Rourke said public transport links to the hospital were not currently up to scratch, so parking restrictions would be ‘detrimental to residents in Heywood’.

And he was also unhappy the report was seemingly unchanged despite twice being rejected.

“It’s basically, ‘look, you’ve got it wrong twice Heywood Township, please can you get it right a third time?'” he said.

“Well, no, certainly I haven’t changed my mind on this. I haven’t seen anything that convinces me to change my mind on this.

“And to be honest I’m more than a little insulted that a scheme has not come back that is reduced that could satisfy township members and satisfy the safety concerns and what the objector has brought up.”

Councillor O’Rourke moved to reject the report for a third time and was seconded by Councillor Alan McCarthy.

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the scheme, meaning it must now go to cabinet for a final decision.

The proposals have been passed by Rochdale North Township, but the ‘interdependent’ nature of the schemes means both committees needed to agree.

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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