Pavement Parking: Work on a solution moving forward in England and Wales
Efforts to provide local authorities with the ability to better address the issue of pavement parking in their communities are moving forward, with agreement to consider a series of measures by both the English and Welsh governments.
In England, this includes a commitment by the Department for Transport (DfT) to consider the introduction of a contravention relating to highway obstruction, which could be enforced by local authorities alongside the police.
This follows an Inquiry>> by the House of Commons Transport Committee last year into the issue of pavement parking in England, with a report>> published in September 2019, during which PATROL advocated for the introduction of highway obstruction by a stationary vehicle to the list of contraventions for which civil enforcement applies, contained in Part 1 of Schedule 7 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.
England: The latest picture
The DfT committed on 12 March 2020 to actively investigate a number of potential solutions to address the issue of pavement parking through a 12-week consultation. The DfT will consult on:
- the prospect of a national ban on pavement parking enforced by local authorities, in order to increase understanding of the consequences in rural and urban areas, while promoting understanding of the impact on daily lives.
- introducing ‘obstructive pavement parking’ or ‘unnecessary obstruction’ to enhance police powers. This could be enforced by police and local authorities, but would require consultation and potentially secondary legislation.
- the specific changes required to Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to facilitate efforts to address pavement parking.
Crucially, the DfT also stated that the planned consultation will ‘include options such as allowing local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to crack down on unnecessary obstruction of the pavement.’
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: ‘Vehicles parked on the pavement can cause very real difficulties for many pedestrians.
‘That’s why I am taking action to make pavements safer and I will be launching a consultation to find a long-term solution for this complex issue.’
Responding to the DfT, Huw Merriman, Chair of the Transport Committee and MP for Bexhill and Battle said: ‘I am pleased the Government has taken on board the previous Committee’s concerns about the very real difficulties presented by pavement parking…
‘However, we have to now deliver this change. The Government promised to look into the issue in 2015 but consultations, roundtable events and internal reviews failed to lead to any actions to improve the experience of the public. This Government has signalled an intent to finally deliver change. We now need a detailed timeframe from the Department for Transport to ensure this happens.’
Read the DfT’s full response to the Transport Committee here>>.
No dates for the consultations have been set as yet, but PATROL will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.
Wales: The latest picture
The Welsh Government set up an expert Task Force Group in July 2019 to advise examine ways to tackle pavement parking in towns and cities across Wales. The group includes Caroline Sheppard OBE, Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, and PATROL Director Louise Hutchinson, alongside officers from Welsh local authorities and the Welsh Local Government Association and the British Parking Association.
The Group considered a nationwide ban but recognised that this could not be done swiftly due to the significant delays in legislation, as well as potential disruption to communities and the cost of TROs and signage.
Instead, two alternative approaches to enabling enforcement to deter parking on pavements are being considered:
- Primary legislation: Create a new offence of pavement parking, similar to the legislation introduced recently in Scotland and the long-standing laws in London and Exeter.
- Secondary Legislation: Add the offence of ‘unnecessary obstruction to the highway’ to the list of parking contraventions that can be enforced against by local authority Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) under the Traffic Management Act 2004.
The second of these options is preferred, as controlling pavement parking through primary legislation would take significantly longer than under the TMA option, possibly in the order of 5 years.
PATROL activity timeline
15 May 2019:
PATROL’s initial submission to the Inquiry was based on the original briefing document and encompassed later feedback received from PATROL member authorities. Access a copy here>>
19 June 2019:
PATROL was asked to give oral evidence to the Transport Committee on Wednesday 19 June 2019. This was provided by Louise Hutchinson, Director, PATROL. Other representatives invited to give evidence during the session included:
- Dr Rachel Lee, Policy and Research Coordinator, Living Streets
- Ian Taylor, Director, Alliance of British Drivers
- Chris Theobald, Public Affairs Manager, Guide Dogs
- Simon Botterill, Transport and Traffic, Design and Delivery Manager, Sheffield City Council
- Spencer Palmer, Director, Transport and Mobility, London Councils
- Tim Young, Project Engineer (Policy and Performance), Norfolk County Council.
Louise was asked a number of questions focused on the procedural and political implications of implementing a national ban (including the role of Traffic Regulation Orders [TROs]), which preceded further questions around alternative solutions, including the introduction of highway obstruction as a new civil enforcement contravention. This followed an earlier session, which focused on the impact of pavement parking on people and vulnerable groups.
Click here>> to watch a video of the full oral evidence given to the Committee on 19 June 2019
(PATROL evidence starts at 10:40:54)
Read a transcript of the full session here>>
27 June 2019:
PATROL provided an additional submission to the Inquiry, expanding on some of the points that came up during the earlier oral evidence session. Access a copy here>>
23 July 2019:
The Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, Caroline Sheppard OBE, in consultation with Louise Hutchinson, provided a further submission to the Inquiry, concerning a potential Behaviour Change Strategy to tackle the issue of pavement parking. Access a copy here>>
Find out more about the Transport Committee Inquiry and view all submissions and evidence provided here>>
Background to the issue
The challenge of pavement parking
Pavement parking poses several problems for local authorities.
- Inconsiderate parking creates potentially dangerous hazards for pedestrians, particularly those that are vulnerable, such as the elderly, disabled or families with pushchairs.
- Damage to paths and pavements is also hazardous and costly to repair.
- Members of the public refer cases of vehicles causing an obstruction and assume that local authorities can take enforcement action. Currently, this is a matter for the police rather than local authority.
A ban on pavement parking was introduced in London in 1974 and (as of April 2019) the Scottish Government has agreed in principle to implement a nationwide ban on pavement parking.
Authorities in England (outside London) and Wales, however, have only limited powers to enforce pavement parking, where:
- vehicles are parked in contravention of existing waiting restrictions;
- a designated area-wide ban is in place, based on Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) and signage;
- the vehicle parked is a ‘heavy commercial vehicle’, with an operating weight of over 7.5 tonnes.
As of July 2019, Lee Waters AM, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Welsh Government, announcement that a Taskforce Group was to be set up to consider the issues around pavement parking and to decide how best to implement a solution to this problem in Wales.
PATROL workshop findings
The PATROL pavement parking workshops confirmed that pavement parking remains an issue; however, the challenge differs from authority to authority, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, such as a nationwide pavement parking ban, could create additional challenges for communities; for example, where there is:
- a need for pavement parking on some roads, such as narrow residential streets
- high-cost and resource implications around implementing a blanket ban in areas where high levels of permitted pavement parking are required.
A number of practical concerns were raised by members during the course of the workshops, including:
- Inflexibility, in terms of the varying needs of local communities and their built environment, and the implications for disapplying the statutory instrument, should a nationwide ban not be appropriate in a specific locality. There will inevitably be some streets where there will be a range of views, implications of road layout and use factors that contribute to the debate about whether pavement parking should / could be banned or not;
- the significant costs associated with disapplying the statutory instrument to allow pavement parking within particular areas of a local community (including surveys, Traffic Regulation Orders and consultation);
- the increased signage that would accompany the introduction of such areas of permitted pavement parking.