Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.
However, the law surrounding the practice of pavement parking is extremely confused and confusing.
The Highway Code states in Rule 244: You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.
So, in London, parking on pavements is illegal under the Greater London Council Act (1974), except in specifically designated areas, which much be clearly marked.
But elsewheren the rest of the UK the law is more complex.
Heavy commercial vehicles are banned from parking on the footway (Road Traffic Act 1988 s19 and s20), except when goods are being unloaded and and the vehicle is not creating a danger or an obstruction.
It is illegal to drive a vehicle on the footway (Highways Act 1835 s.72) and to cause an obstruction (Highways Act 1980 s. 137). Both the latter carry fines (Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s.51 and schedule 3).
However, it is difficult to enforce and prove guilt in these cases. Despite the obvious inference that a parked vehicle has been driven on the footway prior to being parked there, witnesses to the driving may be needed to secure a prosecution.
Similarly the offence of obstruction of the highway is difficult to prove, particularly if police claim that it is possible to negotiate the obstacle whilst remaining within the boundaries of the highway – even if this means a diversion for pedestrians off the pavement.
The Department for Transport have stated that:
“There is currently no national legislation banning the parking of all vehicles on the pavement, due to the wide range of circumstances and locations where pavement parking occurs. For example in some narrow residential roads with a lack of off-street parking provision, drivers have little option but to park on the pavement to avoid causing traffic hazards.”
Back In 1987, Exeter City Council took a robust attitude to the problem of pavement parking – rather than using Traffic Regulation Orders [TROs] in specific areas, they used legislation to impose a city-wide ban. By virtue of section 30 of the Exeter City Council Act 1987 [commonly referred to as the Exeter Act 1987], footway and verge parking on urban roads was prohibited:
So, the Exeter Act 1987 made parking on the footway or verge a criminal offence. And traffic wardens did enforce it by issuing parking tickets. There were some exceptions, and these were marked with specific signs – Sussex Close and Wiltshire Close off Somerset Avenue in Cowick are 2 such examples.
Notice in the above paragraph I used the past tense!
Up until 2008, parking violations were criminal offences and enforced either by the police and/or traffic wardens. In May 2008, those powers transferred to Devon County Council and now Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) enforce parking restrictions using powers issued by the Secretary of State under regulations within the Traffic Management Act 2004.
When DCC applied for Civil Parking Enforcement powers the request was also made that the provisions of Section 30 of the Exeter City Act 1987 be included in the Schedules to the Traffic Management Act. However, due to time constraints this was not possible. As a result, the provisions within the Exeter City Act were not transferred to DCC and therefore responsibility for enforcement currently remains with the Police Authority.
Since then, Exeter Highways & Traffic Orders Committee [HATOC] have been trying to rectify this situation.
At its meeting on 02 February 2012, Exeter HATOC considered a report, Pavement Parking in Exeter.
Minute 118 of this meeting notes that it was RESOLVED that this development be welcomed and that the new provisions be implemented as expeditiously as possible following appropriate consultation and publicity.
In accordance with Standing Order 23(2) Councillor Macdonald has requested that Exeter HATOC consider this item again at the subsequent meeting held on 19 April 2012.
Minute 132 of this meeting noted that I attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item.
I asked about how vehicles parked over the dropped kerb entrance to their own driveways would be treated if and when pavement parking was enforced.
The minute goes on to say that The Neighbourhood Highway Group Manager reported that a review of the signage and their replacement was underway. Implementation of the new enforcement powers by the County Council (through the Civil Enforcement Officers) was planned for September 2012. Exemptions would be permitted under the regulations. The Committee noted the position.
On 08 November 2012, Exeter HATOC received an update on the pavement parking situation.
Although arising from a by-law from Exeter City Council, Devon County Council – as highways agency – are responsible for signage, etc. DfT have advised that additional signage is required (at intervals of around 400m) – how has this changed from the situation prior to 2008 change of parking enforcement operation? It is NOT a TRO matter but I’ve been advised that we should discuss a scheme for members to add additional exemptions to those that already have such exemptions (like Sussex Cl and Wiltshire Cl in Cowick).
Minute 162 of this meeting adds that the Head of Highways and Traffic Management reported that detailed discussion between the County Council and the Department of Transport were continuing. In the interim any suggested exemptions proposed by Members should be referred to the Exeter Neighbourhood Highway Team (Devon County Council) to assess.
So it seems that plans to reintroduce the provisions of schedule 30 of the Exeter 1987 have been stymied by Secretary of State for Transport. Even ingnoring the cost of several £100ks, this seems ot go against all other directives about reducing street clutter.
The next time that Exeter HATOC considered the matter was at its meeting held on 22 July 2014.
Once again I attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item. I pointed out that there are some roads in Cowick where, if pavement parking was prevented, legal parking would make the streets too narrow for traffic to pass. We often have problems on Barley Farm Road, where legal parking prevents the only bus for the ward getting down the street!
So I pointed out that I’m keen to explore the option used by Oxford, Slough and maybe others – with a line denoting where cars can pavement park and if this line is breached, a PCN can be issued.
The minutes of the meeting note that the Head of Highways, Capital Development and Waste reported that following consultation with the Department for Transport he was developing proposals and options, in consultation with other local authorities and industry associations, to enable enforcement of parking on pavement restrictions whilst still maintaining, as appropriate, exemptions in respect of the more narrow and congested urban roads.
It was MOVED by Councillor Owen, SECONDED by Councillor Prowse and RESOLVED that a report on proposals relating to enforcement of parking on pavements restrictions be presented to the next meeting of this Committee.
So at the meeting of 10 November 2014, pavement parking was again considered.
Minute 82 of this meeting reported on the Pavement Parking Bill 2014-15 proceeding through Parliament to make provision for the safety, convenience and free movement on pavements of disabled people, older people, people accompanying young children, and other pavement users; to clarify, strengthen and simplify the law relating to parking on pavements in England and Wales; and for connected purposes. It was anticipated that the Bill would also cover inappropriate parking on verges.
The County Council had made representation on this matter to the British Parking Association and the Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London (PATROL) who would be consulting with other local authorities to ascertain best practice on how to deal with this matter in the interim.
Pending statutory and best practice guidance the County Council would not be proposing any policy changes but that a report would be submitted to Cabinet on future options at the appropriate time.
So it seems, for now, DCC officers are letting discussions in Parliament take their (extremely slow) course.
And what of the progress of that Bill?
It has been rescheduled for a Second Reading on 27 March 2015, but I don’t think this is likely to be heard (it will be the last session before the general election).
Further Reading: Living Streets are a dedicated group of professionals and volunteers, working together to create safer streets around the UK and in February 2010 published a Policy Briefing on pavement parking