E&E Letters | Inconsiderate pavement parking – Let’s make it ‘cross-party’

E&E

13 October 2016

Inconsiderate pavement parking – Let’s make it ‘cross-party’

I welcome the recent thoughts of Cllr Peter Holland on the issue of inconsiderate pavement parking [Anger over inconsiderate pavement parking in ExeterE&E, 10 October 2016] as they echo the same comments I’ve been making for the past five years.

Cllr Holland is correct that section 30 of the Exeter City Council Act 1987 did outlaw the practice of parking on footpaths [ie pavements] and verges, and this provision was enforced by traffic wardens under the direction of Devon & Cornwall Police.

exeter-act-1987-cover

section-30-of-exeter-city-council-act-1987

However, Cllr Holland is mistaken in saying “when the responsibility for enforcement of the law was transferred to Devon County Council the law went into ‘decay’.”

The truth is that when parking enforcement was decriminalised in May 2008, those powers transferred to Devon County Council and now Civil Enforcement Officers [CEOs] enforce using powers issued by the Secretary of State for Transport [The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP] under regulations contained within the Traffic Management Act 2004.

And in the rush to transfer powers to DCC, the provisions of the Exeter Act 1987 were missed.

A new power was conveyed by Statutory Instrument 2012 No.12 issued by the Government under the TMA 2004. Within its Schedules, the Statutory Instrument details which restrictions can be enforced by DCC’s CEOs.

statutory-instrument-2012-no-12Civil enforcement of offences in section 30 of the Exeter City Council Act 1987
2. In Schedule 7 to the Traffic Management Act 2004 (road traffic contraventions subject to civilenforcement), in paragraph 4 (parking contraventions outside Greater London), after subparagraph
(2)(e) insert—
“(ea) an offence under section 30(1) of the Exeter City Council Act 1987 (c. xi)(prohibition of parking vehicles on verges, central reservations and footways).”(b)

However, the situation was complicated in that the Department for Transport informed DCC – as the Local Highways Authority – that it would require additional signage, at intervals of around 400m, to enforce the new legislation.

And, of course, there are some roads which would be blocked without pavement parking,

Indeed the P bus – which coincidently serves both my ward of St Thomas and that of Cllr Holland – would be unable to make its way down Barley Farm Road if all the vehicles parked on the road.

If the situation is complicated in Exeter, then it is even more complex nationally.

The only mention of pavement parking in the Highway Code is under Rule 244:
“You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.”

The direction MUST NOT is legally enforceable [under the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 section 15] but should not is an advisory direction, not an enforceable one.

There is little or nothing DCC’s Civil Enforcement Officers can do in this situation – unless the vehicle is causing damage to the pavement, when the driver *could* be prosecuted. In practice, this rarely happen, if at all.

Interestingly [as it pre-dates motorised vehicles], under section 72 of the Highways Act 1837 it is an offence to wilfully [but note, not park] “a carriage of any description upon the footpath.” But this can only be enforced by a warrant Police Officer, who needs to see the carriage actually driving on the footpath – even though to park on the pavement, the vehicle must have been driven onto it.

And it is also an offence under the Highways Act 1980 and also under s.28 of the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847 to “wilfully obstruct free passage along the highway or deposit anything which causes an interruption to, or obstruction of, the highway [including any public footpath or public thoroughfare].

In these cases, enforcement is the responsibility of warranted Police Officers and authorised PCSOs, rather than DCC’s CEOs.

At a meeting of the joint Exeter City Council and Devon CC’s joint Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee [HATOC] held on 28 July 2015 [see minute 119], County Officers expressed confidence that a Private Members’ Bill  being brought forward by Simon Hoare MP [CON, North Devon], which would resolve the whole issue of inconsiderate pavement parking.

exeter-hatoc-minute-119

I wasn’t convinced at the meeting that the Bill would proceed, and so it came to pass that on 08 December 2015, after a debate in the House of Commons, Simon Hoare withdrew his Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill 2015-16 because he had been promised that “DfT would undertake some work to examine more closely the legal and financial implication of an alternative regime.”

So Cllr Holland’s own Government appears to kicked the issue into the long grass.

I note he hopes to raise the issue when the Minister, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, visits the city later this month.

Let me make this offer – we could make this a cross-party issue and I would be happy to meet the Minister along with him.

Paul Bull
Labour & Co-operative Councillor, St Thomas Ward

Some thoughts on Tony Hogg’s comments about pavement parking

Cllr Paul Bull with an end of Pavement Parking sign
Cllr Paul Bull with an End of Pavement Parking sign (Diagram P667.2)

As someone has long been concerned about pavement parking, it is good news that Tony Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall has come out with strong comments on the issue [Parking on Exeter pavements is ‘inconsiderate’ says police boss Tony Hogg E&E 23 June 2015].

It concerns me because it makes life difficult for many – pedestrians with mobility issues, those with visual impairments, users wheelchair and mobility scooters, and parents with buggies and pushchairs among them.

The article highlights section 30 of Exeter City Council Act 1987 which prohibits the parking of vehicles on verges, central reservations and footways.

s30 of Exeter Act 1987
s30 of Exeter Act 1987

It seems  since 1987 many motorists were prosecuted under s30.

However, the article make it clear that the situation changed dramatically in May 2008 (not January 2012) when parking violations became civil offences, with Civil Enforcement Officers [CEOs] enforcing regulations by issuing Penalty Charge Notices [PCNs].

Unfortunately, the terms of s30 were not transferred at the same so, despite the comments of both Tony Hogg and Cllr Percy Prowse, CEOs currently cannot issue PCNs for pavement parking.

This might come as a surprise to many who believe that pavement parking is against the Highway Code.

Rule 244 of the Highway Code states:
You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs. Law GL(GP)A sect 15

So rule 244 needs a little decoding by looking at those two phrases – MUST NOT and should not.

Many of the rules in The Highway Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence.

Although failure to comply with the other rules of The Highway Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts (see The road user and the law) to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’.

So parking on the pavement in Exeter is NOT illegal in itself.

However, my research has revealed that there TWO regulations that could result in fines. It is illegal to drive a vehicle on the footway (Highways Act 1835 s72) and to cause an obstruction (Highways Act 1980 s137). Both the latter carry fines (Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s51 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. Despite this reluctance of the police to prosecute, there is a good deal of case law on the general issue of ‘obstruction’ and ‘unnecessary obstruction’.

Back in 2009, The Department for Transport  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.

“The Government has no plans at present to introduce new legislation specifically aimed at banning pavement parking on a national scale.”

During the 2014-15 Parliament, two Private Members Bills sought to address the issue: one by Mark Lazarowicz MP [LAB/Co-op], Edinbburgh North and Leith] to devolve powers to introduce a pavement parking ban to the Scottish Government; and one by Martin Horwood MP [LD, Cheltenham] to introduce a blanket pavement parking ban in England and Wales.

Mark Lazarowicz’s Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill 2014-15 was instigated by problems Scottish MSPs have had introducing their own legislation in this area – such Sandra White MSP [SNP, Glasgow Kelvin] had proposed in her Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill. Mark’s Bill received Second Reading in the House of Commons in September 2014, but was adjourned and then withdrawn

Martin Horwood’s Pavement Parking Bill 2014-15  was due to receive Second Reading, first in September 2014, then in January 2015 and finally in March 2015, but the Bill will make no further progress following the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March 2015.

In summary, pavement parking is anti-social, can be illegal and both the highway authority (usually the County Council) and the police can and should take action in many circumstances. I would like to see drivers being issued with a penalty charge notice (PCN) if they obstruct a dropped kerb or block a pavement.

I appreciate there may need to be exceptions to this ban as where the road layout might require vehicles to park on part of the pavement, whilemaintaining space for all pedestrians to pass. Local Authorities should be able to make exemptions based on local circumstances. However, I believe that such exemptions should be the exception and each such exemption requires adequate justification.

Diagram P667.2 from The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions [TSRGD] 2002
Diagram P667.2 from The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions [TSRGD] 2002
Further reading:
Highways Act 1835 s72
If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon;

House of Commons Standard Note SN1172: Parking – pavement and on-street [17 November 2014]
Download  HERE

Department of Transport discussion paper, Pavement Parking – Curbing an Abuse [December 1986]

Parking on corners

I and many councillors have been contacted about parking on corners and I believe it is becoming a more frequent issue around the city.

Rule 243 of the Highway Code outlines where you can and cannot stop or park

DO NOT stop or park:

  • near a school entrance
  • anywhere you would prevent access for Emergency Services
  • at or near a bus or tram stop or taxi rank
  • on the approach to a level crossing/tramway crossing
  • opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space
  • near the brow of a hill or hump bridge
  • opposite a traffic island or (if this would cause an obstruction) another parked vehicle
  • where you would force other traffic to enter a tram lane
  • where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles
  • in front of an entrance to a property
  • on a bend

So how to enforce the “DO NOT stop or park opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space”?

I have been told by the ECC Parking team that Civil [Parking] Enforcement Officers [CEO] that they will enforce and issue Penalty Charge Notices  if there are double yellow lines around the corners. I am encouraged that the some CEOs will patrol some of the locations I’ve highlighted to see what they can do about the problem.

If there are no restrictions then it’s up to the police to issue fines for obstruction.

Perhaps I might need to work with residents to lobby Devon County Council [DCC] drawn up Traffic Regulation Orders [TROs] to  add the relevant restrictions to give ECC CEOs the tools to enforce?

But that’s not going to be easy, though. And certainly not speedy.

The average cost of preparing, advertising and sealing such a TRO , along with signs and lines, is £2500

At the Devon Council Council [DCC] Cabinet meeting on 14 November 2012, Cllr Brian Greenslade [LD, Barnstaple North] asked a written question:

QUESTION(S) FROM MEMBER(S) OF THE COUNCIL
14 November 2012/Minute *567
1. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR GREENSLADE
Re: Traffic Regulation Orders
I have been informed by Officers that no new traffic orders (TRO s) can be progressed this year because of lack of capacity. Would the Leader not agree that illustrates my previous point about local capacity within the County Council following the significant level of cuts and more to the point, what does he intend to do about it?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HUGHES
As part of the restructuring of Highways and Traffic Management a new central dedicated team responsible for managing the County’s Traffic Regulation Orders (known as TROs) has been established. There is reduced capacity in this group which has had to take its share of reducing staff numbers in order to make necessary savings.

However, there has always been a backlog in dealing with TROs. The new team is more structured and is focused on ranking TROs to ensure that those which are most important are dealt with first; a prioritised programme of TROs is therefore now being systematically worked through.

Where possible additional resources are commissioned to deliver externally funded work. A more business-like approach is being taken in the delivery of TROs and this is reducing the backlog.

There are issues where locally important TROs do not feature highly enough in the prioritised strategic programme to be delivered quickly. In such circumstances the team may commission consultants to deliver these locally important TROs.

So it seems the only way these parking  TROs area will be introduced is where the local County Councillor has agreed to fund the costs from the locality budget.

That’s the next challenge.