Flats in St James could get match-day parking permits to stop sports fans clogging up their streets

Councillor Rufia Ashraf has welcomed news that the council will agree to hold meetings about improving match-day congestion in St James.

Councillor Rufia Ashraf has welcomed news that the council will agree to hold meetings about improving match-day congestion in St James.

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Northampton Borough Council has finally agreed to hold crunch talks about match-day parking congestion in St James after a group recommended parking permits for frustrated flats residents.

In 2015 the borough set up a scrutiny panel to look into ways of alleviating blocked residential streets in St James on days when the Cobblers and Saints play.

People living in the area had become fed up of inconsiderate parking on those days making it difficult for them to put cars anywhere near their own homes.

The panel first made recommendations, such as giving the flats in St James match-day parking permits, back in September 2015.

Finally the borough council's cabinet has agreed to look into putting some of the recommendations into action and has agreed to table talks as soon as April.

Panel member Rufia Ashraf (Lab, St James) said she was pleased at the decision:

“Of course I welcome any initiative to improve match day parking in St James," she said. "Having a match day attendant in St James to oversee parking is one such good initiative.

"We need to ensure the Claret Car Park is more extensively used, particularly just when the Saints are playing at home.

"Council tenants, particularly those in the flats with allocated parking bays, must have free permits on match days."

The panel's recommendations include offering residents of the flats in St James such as Cordwainer House, Stitchman House, Stirup House, Lapstone House, Eyeletter House, Abbey House, Melbourne House and Devonshire House, match-day parking permits.

Northampton Saints will be asked to provide a match-day steward to police the crossing outside Franklin's Gardens in Weedon Road.

The free Claret car park will be given "heightened publicity."

Bus company Stagecoach will be asked to set up a pilot scheme whereby a season ticket holder can travel to the ground for £1 each way.

Consideration will also be given to giving supporters access to the Doddridge and Castle car park in Chalk Lane on Saturday match days.

But Councillor Ashraf said the traffic in St James will only improve once the long-discussed St James Mill link road is finally completed. In order to do so, a section of unused railway track needs to be ripped up, though Network Rail has stalled on the proposals for years.

"There is utter frustration in St James about the delay in this," she said. "Everybody, including Network Rail, need to pull their finger out.

"We should also recognise that the problems isn’t just confined to match days. There are people coming into St James taking up residents’ and tenants spaces to avoid paying the parking charges in the town centre.”