A FUNERAL service boss has been forced to hand out specially-designed black and white traffic cones to stop inconsiderate drivers from parking directly outside of churches.
The unusual step was taken after a hearse and cortege had to park up in the middle of a main road due to drivers carelessly parking outside the gates of a church ahead of a funeral service.
A section of Easington Road, outside St Thomas More RC Church, in the town had to be closed while the coffin was carried into the church and family members arrived.
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But the incident triggered Robin Hardy, manager of the Co-operative Funeral Care, into action and he has now handed eight cones to Father Hugh McCann at St Thomas More RC Church and to other churches throughout the town in a bid to cut out any more delays.
Mr Hardy, who is based in Strathmore House, in Stockton Road, is urging town residents to take note of the cones, which will be put on the road ahead of, and during, a funeral service.
He told the Mail: “I’m not saying people were parking outside of the churches on purpose because in the past there has been nothing there to stop people parking and to let them know that a funeral is going to happen.
“But after the funeral a few weeks ago where we had to stop in the middle of the road I realised it was a problem and we had to do something about it.”
Father McCann, of St Thomas More RC Church, described the move as “an excellent idea”.
He said: “If there are no cones down then people don’t always know that they shouldn’t park there. This makes it clear that a funeral is going to take place.”
Mr Hardy does not just want the churches to use the cones ahead of a service organised by Co-operative Funeral Care.
He is urging clergymen to put them in the road ahead of every funeral service to make sure motorists are aware a funeral is going to be held that day.
The problem is common in the town and Mason and Gerald Martin Funeral Service, based in Hartlepool’s Park Road, also operates a system where they put cones down themselves ahead of a funeral.
Gerald Martin said: “We provide cones to the church ahead of a funeral, sometimes I will go as early as 7am to put them in place.
“A lot of people park outside churches without knowing funerals are taking place, if the cones are there they know they can’t park there.”
Mr Hardy added: “I realise that parking can be tight outside some churches, but we just want to bring attention to the fact that a funeral is taking place.
“It will only be for an hour or so while the funeral is being held and a period beforehand to make sure nobody parks there.
“If we have a couple of limousines we need about 100ft and I’m sure people will understand that it does make it incredibly difficult when we can’t park outside the church.”