A BUREAUCRATIC mix-up has created a parking free-for-all in a part of Carlisle city centre.

Officials overlooked the need to set up formal parking restrictions on an 80 feet stretch of English Street near to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop, which has allowed some motorists to park there without restrictions for three years.

Cumbria County Council has confirmed that a so-called "traffic regulation order" has now been prepared for the area.

But it won't come into force for months.

This means that the stretch of road involved - meant to be reserved for unloading only and for permit holders - is unprotected by any legally legally enforceable regulation as happens with most parts of the city centre.

The stretch of English Street involved is big enough to accommodate several average sized cars.

A spokesman for the Council said that steps have been taken to reinstate the parking restrictions but it is likely to be at least four or five months before the regulation can come into effect legally.

One resident said: "Some motorists are parking in the unloading bays all day. I've spoken to the wardens and they say that they can't ticket them.

"Some of these people own businesses so they could afford to park in a long-stay car park but they don't bother. It's about time that this was sorted out so that it's fair for everyone."

Another resident, who works in the area, told the News & Star: "I've been parking outside where the Foodbank has an office, which used to be for police parking only. I've been told they can't just slap a ticket on a car parked there.

"I've called the Council umpteen times and they won't admitted it's their fault!"

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said that officials are now aware of the lack of legal restrictions in the area, which has been unprotected by an legally enforceable traffic regulation order for at least three years.

He said: "We are aware of this issue and it is now being rectified. This part of the city centre has been included in the Zone C Parking Review and was approved by the County Council's Carlisle local committee last week. The changes are likely to come into effect within the next five months."

Cumbria County Council's Houghton and Irthington councillor John Mallinson, who sits on the Carlisle committee, said: "This kind of thing does slip through on occasion and obviously that has happened this time but it will be resolved. It is a bit embarrassing for the Council but it's not a huge issue in the scheme of things.

"I'm sure that if anybody has been inappropriately ticketed that the Council will do the decent thing."

Fellow county councillor Gareth Ellis, who represents Belah, said: "It's disappointing that it's taken three years for this to come to light and then put right.

"Parking should be clear for visitors and residents alike.

"Anybody who has been ticketed unlawfully they should be reimbursed."

A similar issue in Annetwell Street, opposite Carlisle Castle, led to similar situation three years ago, with motorists jamming up the road as they took advantage of the oversight.

That too took months to resolve.