AS many as six times more cars are clogging up residential streets after strict parking restrictions were introduced around Southend Hospital.

New figures, released by Southend Council, have revealed dozens of staff and patients are parking for free in quiet roads, rather than paying for the hospital’s own car parks.

A series of restrictions were introduced around the hospital last year, in an effort to make more motorists use its car park. However, residents on the edge of the restricted zone said it has caused misery for them instead.

Hazel Restorick has lived in Midhurst Avenue, Westcliff, one of the worst-affected roads, for 52 years. She said: “It is dreadful here sometimes. And it’s got a lot worse since the changes were made.”

Neighbour Valerie Wise, 66, added: “It’s horrendous. We’ve just paid £800 to extend our driveway so we can park our cars more easily.”

Council chiefs agreed to introduce restrictions around the hospital after repeated complaints from residents who could not find a parking space outside their homes.

Eighteen streets are controlled by pay-and-display bays, residents’ permits and yellow lines.

But the changes have moved the problem and caused an issue on the edges of the zone, in streets residents claim were never affected before.

In Midhurst Avenue, council officers recorded 11 “visiting” cars during an average working day in 2008. Last year, after the introduction of the restrictions, it rose to 63.

It was a similar story in Hildaville Drive, Ronald Park Avenue, Kenilworth Gardens and Northview Drive.

Council officers believe 28 streets have ten or more new “visitors” parked in them during an average day. The figures, and possible solutions to the problem, will be discussed by the council tomorrow night.

Tony Cox, Tory councillor responsible for transport, said there was “no doubt” the parking restrictions had caused problems. He added: “The question is, how do we move forward?

“An interesting point which has been raised is how far people are prepared to walk to avoid charges.”