Car parking charges in Exeter

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It’s that time of year when the RAC Foundation release their annual report showing that local authorities make a *profit* from parking operations after income was deducted from overheads – in 2015-16 this surplus was £756m.

Councils across Devon made over £22m from parking charges and fines in the last year – and there has been a big jump in surpluses over the past 5 years.

Devon County Council – as the Local Highways Authority – is responsible for all on-street parking and Residents’ Parking Zones across the county.

Any profit generated by unitary and upper-tier councils from on-street parking must by law [Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984] be spent on transport-related activities.

In Devon, money generated by the parking service is typically spent on enforcing parking restrictions, maintaining equipment such as pay and display machines, public transport and improving parking areas. The way money is spent is agreed annually by the Cabinet and is published in the annual County Road Highway Maintenance Revenue Budget and On-street Parking Account.

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DCC On-street parking account 2016-17

Following lobbying from members sitting on the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee [HATOC] and others, DCC has set up  the HATOC Waiting Restriction Project  – a managed process to deliver an annual programme of works to deal with the requests for waiting restrictions to be introduced or amended that the County Council regularly receives.a Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee. Just this week, DCC advertised a new TRO, 5555 Devon County Council (Various Roads, Exeter) (Control of Waiting & Loading) Amendment Order.

For the current year, DCC achieved a surplus of £2.6m from parking activities – up from £594k 5 years ago.

When parking was decriminalised in 2008, and DCC took over parking enforcement from Devon & Cornwall Police’s Traffic Wardens, on-street enforcement [by Civil Enforcement Officers] and back office administration was provided by the district councils and Exeter City Council working under agency agreements. It was originally anticipated that the enforcement element of the on-street service would operate at or around a zero (‘net nil’) budget with the cost of enforcement being offset by the income from Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) after a period of ‘bedding in’. In reality the cost of enforcement significantly exceeded the income from PCNs, resulting in an annual deficit of £795,160 in 2011/12.

Following a decision by DCC’s Cabinet in December 2013, since April 2014 Devon County Council has provided the on-street service in-house, and it is possible to download how the service has performed during the first two years of operation here:

District councils are responsible for their own local car parks – Exeter City Council has some 29 car parks across the city.

The RAC Foundation report shows that ECC’s surplus for the year 2015/16 was £4.6m [and ranked 39 of the 353 local authorities in England] , up from £3.4m in 2912/13.

Since ECChas not made any wholesale changes to parking tariffs since January 2012, this rise in surplus can be due only to increased usage of the city’s car parks.

The City Council has a net budget of £15m – made up of Council Tax, Government Revenue Support Grant and income from car parking and property.

On a Band D Council Tax bill of £1,600.49, Exeter City Council receives £140.05 [of the balance, DCC= £1,184.39; Adult Social Care = £23.23; Devon & Cornwall Police = £172.84; and Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service = £79.98]. A 1% rise in Council Tax would bring into ECC an additional £90,000 and so to replace the income from car parking would require car parking  charges rise by 51%, or £71 per year.

ECC launched a Parking Strategy in March 2016, and followed this with a revised tariff structure that will come into operation from 2017.

The  proposed tariff structure should provide a more gradual rise in price with a clearer ‘per hour’ rationale. 

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The new structure also tried to strike a careful balance between supporting the local economy and making sure that people are not encouraged to favour car use over other more forms of sustainable transport – walking, cycling and public transport.

Futher reading:
DCC Cabinet: County Road Highway Maintenance Revenue Budget and On-street Parking Account 2016/17 [13 April 2016]

Exeter HATOC: Proposals for the delivery of an annual local Waiting Restrictions Programme [19 April 2016]

ECC Scrutiny Committee – Economy: Officer’s Report on Parking Strategy 2016 – 2026 [03 March 2016]

ECC Scrutiny Committee – Economy: A New Strategy for Parking 2016 – 2026 [03 March 2016]

ECC Place Scrutiny CommitteeDelivering the Parking Strategy: Tariffs, Designations and Permits  [08 September 2016]

 

 

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.

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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.

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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