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Police confirm Gosford ‘feasibility study’ plan with more patrols and speed checks for starters

Multi-agency meeting also planned to look at issues such as £5 admission

Gosford Forest Park

A feasibility study is to be carried out in a bid to end once and for all the issue of problem parking at Gosford Forest Park, Armagh I can reveal.

Inspector Kieran Quinn confirmed the latest approach in the face of ongoing complaints from the public and fears that lives will be lost.

It comes after the warmer weather again brought the issue to the fore, with scores of cars parked along the hard shoulder to avoid paying the £5 admission charge.

This too is something which, it is recognised, needs to be addressed.

And the ABC Council has also been asked – at the request of SDLP Councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley – to arrange a multi-agency meeting to plot the way ahead.

Inspector Kieran Quinn, of Armagh’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, provided us with an update.

He told Armagh I : “We are aware of the parking issue around the Gosford Park area.

“The PSNI are working alongside a number of relevant, interested agencies and there are plans to commission a feasibility study in the medium to long term.

“Police will be stepping up patrols in the area and we will also be operating a number of speed checks.

“In the meantime, we would appeal to motorists to park safely and responsibly in the area and to show consideration for other users of Gosford Park.”

SDLP Councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley, meanwhile, has asked the council to facilitate an urgent multi-agency meeting to finally get the parking problem at Gosford resolved.

She said the parking problem at Gosford had got “totally out of hand” and, with the demand for access to the park ever increasing, insisted it was “about time real action is taken to improve safety for all”.

Councillor Haughey-Grimley told Armagh I : “The safety risks being posed by drivers parking on the hard shoulder are well documented.

“Last year I brought it to the table of both the Minister for Agriculture Michelle McIlveen and Roads Minister Chris Hazzard. Both refused to meet on site to discuss the problems.

“Since then we have seen greater numbers of people parking on the hard shoulder at Gosford entrances rather than paying the £5 parking fee. This is putting all road users at real risk and if something is not done there will be a serious incident. We cannot and should not wait for that to happen.

“I have asked Council’s Tourism and Leisure Departments to arrange an urgent meeting with all relevant stakeholders to include Transport NI, Forestry Service and PSNI.

“I hope this meeting will bring about a number of resolution actions from each agency so that this problem can be stamped out once and for all.

“The key issues for discussion will be the park fee, access for Markethill and Mullaghbrack residents, penalties for illegal and dangerous parking on a main arterial route, signage and enforcement.

“It’s incredible that so many people are not willing to pay the £5 entry fee for cars and instead risk their lives and often their children’s lives by parking so carelessly.

“The entrance fee is essential to Forestry Service who have limited resources for maintenance of the park so this issue is key to the final resolution.

“There may be a better charging system which is affordable and fair to all and which can actually ensure everyone pays.

“But the issue can only be resolved by all agencies working together and playing their full part in ensuring that this problem is finally stamped out.

“I have asked that this meeting is arranged urgently as I would like to see a plan of action for the summer months and I will continue to keep people updated.”

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