The desirable Greater Manchester town that's turned into a "free car park" with football club riding high

One man says he's had cars and vans driven at him while walking on a pedestrian footway.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Residents in Stockport say the town has become a “free car park” for drivers. Motorists have been spotted leaving their cars parked blocking public pavements and squares, forcing people to walk on the road or avoid routes altogether.

Hot spots for this kind of “anti-social parking” have been flagged in the town centre and Edgeley, especially around St Peter’s Square.

Martin Bain, who lives in the borough, said: “There are particular problem areas – like on the A6 near Stockport College, where people park on the pavements outside the takeaway and the Co-op. I’ve seen people forced to walk in the road here, the rush hour A6. I’ve had cars and vans driven at me while walking on the footway.

A picture of cars parked on public pavements in Stockport town centre. Picture: Martin Bain. A picture of cars parked on public pavements in Stockport town centre. Picture: Martin Bain.
A picture of cars parked on public pavements in Stockport town centre. Picture: Martin Bain.

“It puts me off visiting and using these areas. I can only imagine how much worse it must be for people who use wheelchairs, or the visually impaired. The parking on St Peter’s Square is out of control. This is a key walking route between the railway station and the market and Merseyway – and it’s blocked by vehicles.

“It’s grimly ironic that while Stockport council are celebrating the new park at the bus station they’ve allowed the most significant public space in the town centre to become a free car park.”

The local authority is working on plans to encourage more people to use public transport around the town, starting with the opening of its new transport interchange in spring. The idea is to offer a modern site in the town centre where residents can travel by public transport to different destinations in the borough and beyond. The council has made loud calls for the Metrolink to be expanded to the site, which would make a range of public transport options available to Stockport residents.

Overview of the under-construction spiral ramp at Stockport InterchangeOverview of the under-construction spiral ramp at Stockport Interchange
Overview of the under-construction spiral ramp at Stockport Interchange

Part of the parking issues are being caused by thousands of fans travelling to Edgeley Park to watch Stockport County on match days. The club is sitting at the top of League Two at the moment, and is regularly drawing crowds of more than 9,000 supporters to the dense residential area.

Large crowds in Edgeley have brought more traffic, and councillor Matt Wynne, leader of the Edgeley Community Association, said the problem is making some vulnerable residents feel trapped inside their own homes. He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “Our priority is preventing the Edgeley neighbourhood area from being treated like a free car park on match days and by commuters travelling by train or working in the town centre –  which it is at present.

"County is a sell out and regeneration work in the town centre is increasing and all the contractors associated with that. Anti-social parking on match days is becoming more noticeable as parking gets squeezed, for example the blocking of junction and crossing points, and parking on grass verges. Some vulnerable residents feel like prisoners in their own home as they can’t get about safely. If people are feeling like this then we have a serious problem.”

Stockport's games are packed at the moment with the club flying high at the top of League Two. Picture: GettyStockport's games are packed at the moment with the club flying high at the top of League Two. Picture: Getty
Stockport's games are packed at the moment with the club flying high at the top of League Two. Picture: Getty

Coun Wynne added that the match day parking permit regime should be extended across Edgeley Road to offer a wider zone of protection in the neighbourhood when fans flock to the stadium. At the end of last year, the council held a survey in the SK3 area about parking which received more than 1,400 responses. That data is being analysed and it’s expected to come with recommendations for how to tackle some of the problems flagged by residents.

But parking isn’t the only issue – Coun Wynne said the council pay and display machines in Edgeley only take cash, so the problem is growing with public car parks being left empty while the streets are blocked by vehicles. He said the council should look at a trial of London-style painted bays on residential streets as part of the solution to tackle problem parking.

Stockport’s parking issues are also making life difficult for people walking with prams, or wheelchair users. Walk Ride Greater Manchester – a group campaigning for more active travel in the region – told the LDRS that parking in Stockport is an everyday annoyance for residents.

Will York from the group said: “St Peter’s is meant to be a public square – about 15 years ago it was remodelled, paved and planted at great public expense, providing a place to spend time and a nicer walk from the train station to the town centre.

“It’s therefore incredibly disappointing that for over a decade, Stockport council’s highways department have failed to put in a simple traffic restriction order, so instead of being proud of civic space it’s littered with cars, blocking pedestrians and damaging the paving.

Parking issues in Stockport town centre. Parking issues in Stockport town centre.
Parking issues in Stockport town centre.

“Every day across Greater Manchester pedestrians including parents with prams and disabled people struggle to navigate pavements obstructed by antisocially parked cars, sometimes being forced to put themselves in danger by stepping into the road to get round.”

The group is trying to convince political leaders around the region to bring in a ban on pavement parking around Greater Manchester. It believes this would go some way to reducing the problem, and encourage people to park in designated car parks, or use other means of travel such as walking, cycling, or public transport.

There are plans already in place to try to reduce parking issues though. Work is underway to create more “active travel” areas in Stockport by offering safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists to travel around the borough.

Part of that is linked to new proposals around Edgeley, which will see the Greek Street Bridge replaced by Network Rail. This include improvements to walking and cycling routes on the bridge, as well as work around the neighbourhood to make safer routes for those who want to leave the car at home.

Coun Grace Baynham, Stockport council’s cabinet member for parks, highways and transport services, is leading the local authority’s work on this. She said: “Following feedback from residents and local councillors in the area of Bridgehall, Cale Green, Edgeley and Shaw Heath, the council carried out a parking survey for two months in late 2023.

“The aim of the survey was to understand what issues residents encounter when parking on their street. The council received 1,435 responses to the survey and officers are currently evaluating these, to understand the difficulties residents tackle on different days and times of days throughout the area.

“With regards to St Peter’s Square, the Edgeley to Stockport Active Travel Fund scheme, started on site last week. It includes the installation of bollards and ‘No Waiting’ restrictions to address the issue of parking on St Peter’s Square.”

It’s hoped that the new measures could help to reduce the parking problems in Stockport and around the borough, especially with improved connections between the town centre and train station already planned. There are thousands of new homes planned to be built in Stockport over the next few years, and residents will be expecting the public transport connections to meet the growing demand on services.