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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Andrew Forgrave & Charlotte Hadfield

Holidaymakers' cars towed away from Snowdonia after 'outrageous' parking

Holidaymakers visiting a popular North Wales beauty spot have had their cars towed away after a spate of illegal parking.

Traffic was reduced to a single file on the A5 in Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia, this weekend due to "outrageous" parking. One video showed traffic enforcement officers loading a car onto the back of a truck, while another showed drivers struggling to navigate the route with cars parked on both sides of the road.

Improvement works on two large laybys appeared to contribute to the problems but the issue is long running and parking fines have been issued in the Ogwen Valley since the start of the year, North Wales Live reports.

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Local people said the problems there are getting worse. On Facebook, one said the weekend’s parking was “outrageous” and another said it was downright “dangerous”. A third added: “No way can cars drive through in both directions.”

Double yellow lines, better public transport and more park-and-ride facilities are among the solutions suggested by local residents to help solve Snowdonia’s parking problems. Some people suspect that new parking arrangements introduced by Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) at Pen-y-pass have shifted the area’s parking problems elsewhere.

Motorists are forced to drive single file along the A5 by Llyn Ogwen, Snowdonia, after a spate of illicit parking (Malcolm Mills Davies)

Over the winter, SNPA and its partners have been developing plans to tackle infrastructure pressures at Cwm Idwal and Ogwen. They’ve also been consulting on long-term solutions for the area. In response to the weekend’s spate of illegal parking on the A5, “emergency temporary measures” will be deployed until permanent measures can be put in place later in the year.

An SNPA spokesperson said: “The primary focus is on the use of sustainable transport for visitors to enjoy the region. The new T10 service starting from Bangor train station means people have the option of visiting the area without having to use their cars at all.

“The Ogwen Partnership is also planning on running an electric minibus to and from Cwm Idwal during the peak summer months to further enhance this service for local people and visitors alike.”

Over the weekend, Traffic Wales urged motorists to “park sensibly” following delays right along the A5 between Bethesda and Betws-y-Coed. Maintenance of the A5 is the responsibility of the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agent, which acts on behalf of the Welsh Government.

It is nearing the end of a 15-day scheme on the A5 Llyn Ogwen which has closed lakeside laybys. Sharing photos of their fines on social media, some motorists complained they had been caught out by the closures. The NMWTRA has been publicising the scheme since March and many of Snowdonia’s visitors said offending motorists had no excuses. Neither were they contributing to the local economy by searching for free but illicit parking.

However, while some people called for double yellow lines to prevent pavement parking, a larger number said the chickens were coming home to roost for an area that was seeing a rapid growth in popularity but without the right infrastructures in place. More buses and, especially, more parking areas, were needed, they said.

One person said: “This has been going on since the end of the first lockdown but they bury their heads in the sand and respond by reducing parking in the Ogwen. Contrast with Cairngorms National Park, who (sic) have accepted the problem isn’t going away and have started to create far more parking.”

Some argued that wider public transport systems still lack integration and frequency to offer viable alternatives to motoring in the National Park. The alternative is to provide more parking close to areas where people want to visit – an idea unlikely to gain traction as Snowdonia adopts an increasingly sustainable ethos.

One person said: “The Glynrhonwy white-elephant site could accommodate many hundreds of visitors with its level graded areas, tarmac connecting roads and even pavements. (It) lies empty, barriered off, paid for by Gwynedd taxpayers while the same taxpayers can’t get parked in their own village during the summer!”

An experienced mountain guide from North Wales had a much more radical solution. He said: “I’ve always said a huge underground parking area at Ogwen Cottage. No visible signs better for everybody. But that would take some imagination on the part of the council.”

One person who regularly cycles the route said action is needed to avert potential tragedy. But they railed against the use of traffic cones which has earned the area its “Snowconia” nickname, as these push cyclists further out into the road, causing potential collision hazards.

They said: “My big worry is road safety. The parking yesterday was really dangerous on a trunk road and cannot be tolerated as someone is going to die as a result of this.”

The Welsh Government, which oversees the A5, said it was looking at short-term solutions. A spokesperson said: “We are aware of problems last weekend with traffic and parking in this area and are in discussions with stakeholders, including the police to try and prevent this happening again.”

Improvements to the A5 laybys alongside the Ogwen Valley are due to be completed by 3pm on Friday, April 1. But after last weekend’s parking problems, not everyone is convinced it will solve things. One person added: “God knows what it’ll be like once the season actually starts."

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