Parking mad

Article date: 23 September 2009

  • Insurer finds Britain's 10 worst car parking spaces

Ever needed a can opener to get out of a space, or three people to guide you safely out of a tight spot? Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, has asked the public to nominate their worst car parking space, with the top ten being announced today.

Earning the dubious accolade of being the worst parking space in Britain is Alton Business Centre, Hampshire, nominated by budding entrepreneur Jamie Dickinson, 18, from Lower Froyle near Alton: “This truly is a nightmarish space,” admits Jamie.  “Being sandwiched between two walls and the two other sides blocked by cars meant my car was cornered in and I was trapped after a meeting!”

From Aberdeen to Alton, Blackpool to Barnstaple, the British public has spent the last month nominating their nightmare spaces that make parallel parking preposterous and manoeuvring your motor into a tiny gap maddening.

Whether there’s a pillar in the way, a post preventing the door from opening or barely enough room to squeeze in Noddy’s car, parking has become hazardous - Aviva alone deals with more than 25,000 parking related claims annually, with an average cost of £1,400.*

It’s not just the spaces that are getting a bad name for themselves, airport car parks and hospitals are just as guilty, Gatwick’s short stay gets two votes, Stansted one vote, and three hospitals - University Hospital Llandough, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Western Park Hospital, Sheffield - across the UK getting nominated. 

Another major concern for motorists was vandalism, with many accounts of intentional damage being done to cars, with one gentleman being left with no wheels! 

The most farcical space to be nominated can be found in Putney, next to the rowing club – if you park your car there, come high tide it will be washed away!

The top 10

Alton, Hampshire
Dying to get out of work? You might struggle at Alton Business Park. If you’re first in in the morning, you’ll definitely be the last out, with the UK’s number one worst car parking space having two sides surrounded by walls and the front and passenger sides blocked by fellow worker’s cars.

Soho, London
Parking is scarce in the Capital and you pay through the tooth for it, so you can imagine how happy one entrant was to find out that the only space left in Soho’s NCP was occupied by a concrete pillar and two pipes.

Brighton
A far cry from the sun, sea and sand of Brighton, the NCP Churchill car park is enough to rain on anyone’s parade. Nominated for its narrow bays, this car park is riddled with posts and barriers which prevent car doors from being opened.  With three nominations Brighton was the UK’s most unpopular place to park.

Nottingham
Nicknamed by the locals as the "modern dungeon" of Nottingham, Upper Parliament Street car park is known for being dark and dinghy.  Huge concrete pillar after huge concrete pillar are used to mark out the spaces, where all they really do is scrape your car.

Blackpool
People come far and wide to see Blackpool’s illuminations but they are kept in the dark about the poor parking in some quarters. Drivers have to snake their way around West Street’s car park only to find spaces at confusing angles to each other and a low ceiling preventing your boot from opening.

Chesterfield
There’s nothing saintly about Vicar Lane car park in Chesterfield’s town centre.  Many a car has left their mark on this treacherously tight car park with paintwork covering the walls and ramps.

Hertford
Shopping with your kids is a struggle at the best of times – maybe this space was designed with that in mind. Bircherley Green Shopping Centre’s mother & baby space is boxed in by barriers and a pillar to the extent that the doors can’t even open.  Looks like no one is going shopping!

Hendon
On a busy road in the north of London, and directly opposite a bus stop is not the safest of places to park. You’ll be stopping traffic for all the wrong reasons when you try and parallel park into this roadside space.

Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
You’ll need some pretty adept parking skills and a fairly small car to negotiate around the ground floor of the Horsefair car park and its hefty wing-mirror threatening concrete posts. The space, just to the left of the entrance, is particularly bad -  you'll be in there forever, if you manage to get in it in the first place - which is probably why it is often left empty!

Harrogate
Imagine having to climb out the boot to exit the car, well this is exactly what one entrant has to do in the Waitrose car park in Harrogate. The space is nestled so tightly between two other spaces that when the spaces are occupied, passengers can’t open the car doors.

David Tyers, director of insurance marketing at Aviva, said; “Some of us are better parkers than others, but sometimes the spaces we try and shoe-horn our cars into are so awkward that even the most experienced driver in the world would struggle.

“We thought we’d ask the pubic for their worst experiences and they’ve certainly come up with some priceless examples. People appear genuinely frustrated by some spaces that are on offer throughout the UK - not only are the bumps and scratches taking their toll on their paintwork, but the whole process appears more exhausting than ever!”

To guide nervous drivers into the most difficult spots, Aviva has employed special expert parkers who will be on hand in a number of the 10 worst spots for the next two days.

The Guinness world record-breaking expert driver, Terry Grant, has compiled these top tips to help negotiate the "perfect park":

  1. Stay calm and take your time. Don’t be rushed by any one queuing behind you, they will have to wait!
  2. If the parking space is tight and you have passengers in the car, let them all out first. This means that you only need to worry about how you can get out of your door and not about all the passengers getting out as well.
  3. Try and find a space that you can drive straight into. It’s the easy option!
  4. If you have someone with you who can get out of the car, ask them to get out and help you into the space.
  5. If you have to reverse, look over your shoulder rather then using the mirror. This means when you look right/ left you will naturally turn the wheel in the direction you want to be going.

All of the top 10 parking spots can be seen at www.aviva.co.uk/byebyebumps. Aviva is currently offering drivers 12 months car insurance for the price of 10.**

-ends-

*Aviva claims statistics for 2008

** Available to new customers with four or more years no claims discount of up to 15%.

For further information contact:
Fiona Robinson, Frank PR on 0207 693 6959 or fiona@frankpr.it or Rebecca Homes, Aviva Press Office: 01603 685177/ 07800 690731 rebecca.l.holmes@aviva.co.uk

Images:
Available upon request are images of the top 10 worst car parking spaces from: Fiona Robinson, Frank PR on 0207 693 6959 or fiona@frankpr.it

Notes to editors:

Aviva, the international savings, investments and insurance group, is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, serving 50 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

In the UK, Aviva is a leading provider of life, pensions, investment, general insurance and health products to more than 20 million customers.  Aviva also provides roadside assistance through RAC.  Products are distributed through a number of channels including IFAs, brokers, corporate partners and direct to customers via the internet.

Aviva's UK Insurance business has a market share of around 15%, making it the largest general insurer in the UK. The business is focused on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

Aviva's life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 12% and a top three position in its key markets of savings, protection, and annuities.

Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

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