INCONSIDERATE parking on Somerset's streets has led to more than 400 waste and recycling collections being delayed or missed so far this month.

Fire chiefs are also warning lives could be put at risk as fire engines may not be able to get through.

The rise in residential streets being blocked to Somerset Waste Partnership crews and potentially firefighters has been put down to more people working at home

And with the festive season on the way, there are fears the usual seasonal parking pressures could be worse than normal.

An SWP spokesperson said collection trucks often struggle to negotiate narrower streets even when cars are parked legally.

He added: "If recycling crews cannot get through, fire engines will struggle too.

"The fire service is becoming increasingly concerned that its crews could be seriously delayed getting to an emergency incident, putting lives at risk."

SWP collection crews are putting ‘please park carefully’ notes on the windscreens of problem parkers, just as fire crews do when they find themselves in a tight spot.

In October, SWP workers reported 269 incidents where collections were delayed or missed because they could not get to a home or a whole street because of the way someone had parked - that figure has soared to more than 400 cases by the third week of November.

The parking problems are being seen across the county, from small villages with narrow streets to new estates with many more people at home.

Mickey Green, managing director of SWP, said: “We know parking can be difficult when so many more people are at home, as they are over Christmas and New Year, but please think about how and where you park.

“A missed or delayed collection is a frustration, but a delayed fire engine is much more serious.”

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service area manager Gerald Taylor said: “Fires don’t wait for anything or anyone.

"If our fire engines are held up by badly parked cars, it will mean the incident has progressed further, increasing the risk of serious injury as well as more damage to property.”

The service is asking people when parking their vehicle to:

  • Park close to the kerb;
  • Leave enough space for a fire engine or an ambulance to pass;
  • Leave extra room near tight corners;
  • Fold in your wing mirror.