COMPLAINTS have been made about ‘parking chaos’ surrounding Europe’s largest spiritual gathering held in Blackburn at the weekend.

Several Whitebirk, Intack and Knuzden residents told of their frustration over the dozens of cars which were parked in streets in their areas.

More than 20,000 visited at the weekend to take part in the Tablighi Ijtima, an Islamic congregation, which was held Frontier Park near junction six of the M65.

The site is privately owned and it falls under Hyndburn Council’s jurisdiction.

The event was manned by hundreds of volunteers from East Lancashire.

Jacqueline McGrew, the chairwoman of the Whitebirk and Intack Tenants and Residents Association, said cars were blocking pavements and driveways across several streets including Devon Road, Gloucester Road, Surrey Road and Peronne Crescent.

She said: “No one on these streets were told about this event.

“No one this side of Whitebirk was given a letter, but those who live on the other side of Whitebirk were notified.

“We were very angry because cars were parked everywhere.

“It’s not about who has parked there or what the event is about, it’s about the fact these cars should not be parked in this way.”

A Peronne Crescent resident, who identified herself as Anne, said: “There were huge car parking issues throughout the day. It was chaos.

“We did not know it was taking place either.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Another Peronne Crescent resident said: “We were not told of the event and there was noise late at night and during the early morning.

“People were parking their cars in the street without a care for residents.

“There were no cones.

“We had no idea it was happening and nobody came around to tell us.

“I don’t think residents would have had any issues if we were told.”

Another resident said people were “effectively prisoners in their own homes” as a result of the bad parking.

Worshippers arrived and left at staggered times throughout the event and Sunday morning saw the biggest attendance with more than 10,000 participating in prayers.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Abu Uthman, a spokesman for the UK Tablighi Ijtima said leaflets were given to residents most likely to be affected by the event and more than one kilometre of traffic cones were laid out in a bid to not disrupt those living nearby.

He said: “Sadly, despite all the planning and communications, a tiny minority of attendees chose not follow the event rules and parked inconsiderately in some residential areas.

“Naturally, as the event organisers it was very frustrating as this behaviour was certainly was not in keeping with the spiritual aims of the event, and we sincerely extend our apologies to the residents affected for any inconvenience caused.

“The 1,000-plus trained volunteers were simply amazing, selflessly serving our guests 24/7 providing fire marshalling, safety and security, first aid care and traffic management – even through the relentless rain over the weekend.”

Mr Uthman said speakers were switched off within the buildings during the evenings and early dawn prayers to ensure minimal impact on residents.

READ > Look inside the 2019 UK Tablighi Ijtima

Lancashire Telegraph:

Sayyed Osman, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s director of adult services, prevention and strategic commissioning, said the council highlighted concerns during the event planning stage to the organisers.

He said: “We understand these were taken on board at Hyndburn’s event safety advisory group.

“Given the event was located in Hyndburn Council’s boundary, Hyndburn Council has been leading the meetings with the organisers.

“The organisers paid for Kay’s Traffic Management and were also using their own stewards and marshals.

Lancashire Telegraph:

“Clearly we are disappointed that some visitors to the event parked in streets and not in the designated parking and park and ride areas.

“We understand from speaking to police that they received complaints from the Gloucester Road area on Sunday afternoon and responded immediately.

“The organisers were quick to attend with additional stewards and marshals and prevented further inappropriate parking.

“The organisers also took details to announce at the event for owners of cars to move them.

“Ideally it would have been better had no intervention been necessary.

“Overall for an event that attracted almost 20,000 visitors, it has generally been well managed.

“Clearly there are learning points for the future that will be addressed.”

Hyndburn Council was contacted for a comment.