PARKING restrictions could be brought in to stop hospital visitors blocking up roads in Mile End.

The neighbourhood has been blighted for years by motorists who block driveways in narrow cul-de-sacs to avoid parking fees at Colchester General Hospital in Turner Road.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust charges £1.80 for a one hour stay rising to £10 for visits of more than eight hours, although concessions are available.

In response, Essex County Council’s highways department is now ordering an audit of roads, including Field View Close, Kingswood Road, Lufkin Road and Wryneck Close to see if parking regulations should be imposed.

Parking is a thorny issue across large swathes of Mile End as many new roads in the rapidly-expanding community were deliberately built without garages or car parks by environmentally-conscious planners.

Councillor Martin Goss (Mile End, Lib Dem) said he feared when a Walk-in Centre, in Colchester’s town centre, moves to Turner Road this summer, problems around the Turner Road area will get even worse.

He said: “People don’t want to pay hospital parking charges so they park on residential streets and block people’s driveways or even roads.

“When you confront them, some of them become abusive.

“It is a public highway, but they park double sided so you can’t get through the middle.

“When they move the Walk-In Centre from Middleborough to Turner Road, nobody is going to want to pay to park there.

“Residents would be happy with parking restrictions.”

Phil Kitchener, head of facilities at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Wherever possible, we encourage our patients, visitors and staff to consider forms of transport other than driving on their own in their cars when coming to our hospitals.

“However, we appreciate this is not always possible or practicable, which is why we have invested £1.3million in the past two years on improving our car parks.

“If people do choose to travel to us by car, but park off-site, we ask them to do so legally and responsibly with full consideration for the community and our neighbours in the areas around the hospital.”

The next-door primary care centre, run separately by NHS North East Essex, may also see parking charges introduced later this year. Scott Wilson, spokesman for the county council, said the travel surveys being carried out would help analyse the area’s transport needs.

He said: “From Essex County Council’s point of view they will help to build a picture of current vehicle flows and help in our work to develop sustainable travel, such as public transport, cycling, and car sharing and other methods.

“The work will help us in our ongoing strategy to reduce congestion in the area which has seen much development, including new housing and employment opportunities.”