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

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#CowickPBus and Sylvan Heights

Part of the planning conditions placed on the Sylvan Heights development on the site of the old Crossmead Hall site by Devon County Council was the formulation of a Green Travel Plan.

As the Officer’s report to Exeter City Council’s Planning Committee states:
The Travel Plan identifies key objectives and measures to discourage the use of the car and facilitate the use of alternative modes of travel.”

The Framework Travel Plan (see link to this document from ECC planning portal on application 08/1476/03) referred to by the Planning officer is clear that bus provision is an important part of tthose alternative modes of travel:
3.4.4. With four bus stops located within 200m the bus service is a very convenient mode of transport to travel to the site when considering the high frequency of bus services to and from the City Centre and nearby towns.

Many of the residents bought properties on the basis of statements contained with the document. How does this square with DCC’s proposal to cut evening and Sunday services on the P route?

#CowickPBus leaflet

Devon County Council’ response to central Government spending cuts next year is to cut £1.7m from their annual public transport budget.

There are several ways they could propose to do this, including:
– making savings by changing services
– change the way in which services are provided
– increase charges for services rather than entirely taking them away

But DCC seem to be only suggesting the first option – and by “changing services” they really mean “withdrawing services”. And that means cutting evening and Sunday services on the P route

So yesterday, over 1000s households received this leaflet, delivered by a team of volunteers

P Bus Leaflet

Already, residents have been contacting me

Like the person who bought a property in Sylvan Heights based on the good availability of public transport as outlined in the Green Travel Plan.

Or the elderly people in and around Somerset Avenue. I’ve heard from 2 separate residents who find the steep hills a problem.

For them, getting off a bus on Buddle Lane of an evening only to have to walk up the hill to get home would be the equivalent of climbing Everest.

We need to encourage anyone and everyone that could be affected by these changes to respond to the DCC consultation before 20 April 2014

Reliability and punctuality of the #CowickPBus

On the doorstep, I’m often hearing that residents find the P bus unreliable…they wait at the bus stop, but the bus doesn’t turn up. And when they are returning to Cowick, the rest of the routes to West of Exe [A, E. F1 and F2] turn up but the P is often missing.

I took the opportunity to quiz Robert Williams, Commercial Director of Stagecoach South West, about this at last week’s Exeter HATOC meeting, although the exchange wasn’t minuted.

Since the meeting, I’ve been in correspondence with Mr Williams.

He tells me that in 2014 Stagecoach SW  ran 99.7% of our scheduled mileage on the P, which is in line with the rest of their network in Exeter.

During the course of the year there is very little variance from this – 99.5% in November and December when the traffic and weather are worst, 99.9% in the spring and summer when the traffic and weather is best.

He says:
“This demonstrates that even if the buses are delayed, the vast majority still run, and so you can depend on them to get you home if they encounter a delay.”

So if the P route runs most of its scheduled miles, the problem must be punctuality.

There are many pinch-points long the route from Crossmead to Pennsylvania and back again – not least the chaos often encountered at Exe Bridges [more often then not at the yellow box junction leading to Fore Street] and rush-hour congestion elsewhere.

Stagecoach SW are in the process of setting up a Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnership with Devon County Council, part of which will involve sharing data from both sides with the aim of improving punctuality. Once this is up and running, I would like to think we might get some meaningful information on bus punctuality in the city at regular intervals to pass back to residents.

And I’m told that  with the introduction of the Real Time Information system later in the year  Stagecoach SW expect to be able to simultaneously monitor 90% of departures from every location, which will greatly improve our ability to predict journey times and timetables. At present,  Stagecoach rely on manual observations and driver & passenger feedback, which can never give us the accuracy that the system developers promise!

We are currently looking in to your separate email about the 1500-1530 period and will respond shortly. Christina has just gone onto maternity leave, so Simone Smith our acting manager is looking at this in her place.

#DevonPTR15 | Devon County Council Public Transport Review

It’s interesting reading the preamble accompanying Devon County Council’s recently announced Public Transport Review 2015.

The opening paragraph reads:
To help meet the £50 million budget reduction required by Government spending cuts next year, we now face making savings of £1.7m from our annual public transport budget.
which could be amended to read:
To help meet the £50 million budget CUT required by Government spending CUTS next year, we now face making CUTS of £1.7m from our annual public transport budget.”

The document goes on to suggest that there are 3 options:
– making savings by changing services
– change the way in which services are provided
– increase charges for services rather than entirely taking them away

Yet when they say they need your help, they say:
We would like to find out what you think about our proposals to reduce services“.

Indeed, more than that they emphasise this by stating:
It will be the first time that we have proposed making service reductions for four years.”

To me, a better option would be to look at the way in which services are provided.

The current dialogue appears to be a negative one, as what seems to be proposed by  DCC is a ‘managed decline’ in bus services in Exeter and beyond.

An open and positive dialogue with the bus operators could lead to a better grasp of what a strategic bus network might look like, including examining new routes and altering some existing routes.

Since DCC hasn’t provided any options, I’m going to look at some strategic changes to routes and/or services than might enable more of our  vulnerable communities to be provided with some buses in the evening and on Sundays.

#exDUMPT buses | Some thoughts on the early comments made about DCC’s public transport review

I’ve been reading through the comments section on the Public Transport Review on supported bus services in Devon.

For those without access to a car, or chose not to own one, or who cannot drive, or cannot afford a car, a bus service is key to a decent quality of life: with fewer buses, or none at all, journeys may not be made at all. And this is borne out in the comments being made. I fear for social isolation – and not only in rural areas, it can and will happen in urban and suburban settings.

The report from the IPPR thinktank, Greasing the Wheels: Supporting and Improving Britain’s Rail and Bus Services, highlights that the poorest make more than three times as many trips a year by bus as the richest.

But while car ownership is nearly universal among wealthier people, only 30% of households in the poorest income decile own a vehicle. Poorer groups therefore rely on bus services or have to take taxis.

The report shows that the poorest fifth of households take more taxi journeys per year than any other income group – largely due to the unavailability, unreliability and high fares of their local buses.

One reponse to DCC’s  consultationmade reference to
The poor bus services provided by Exeter City Council & Devon County Council

It is worth noting that NO bus servicesin Exeter are provided by either ECC and DCC.

What top-tier local authorities (in this case Devon County Council) CAN do is subsidise bus routes that they deem are socially necessary (meaning that means it meets a public transport need) but not commercially viable.

Apart for the D-U-M-P-T services, each and every route in Exeter is operated by Stagecoach SW on a commercial basis.

D-U-M-P-T routes (whether whole service, part routes, or evening/Sunday services) under threat of withdrawal are deemed by Stagecoach to be unprofitable To ensure they do run, DCC support these services by paying Stagecoach a subsidy.

The trouble stems nearly 30 years ago, local bus services in Britain were deregulated by the Conservatives under the Transport Act 1985 and implemented from 26 October 1986.

Now nearly 30 years on, it is clear that under this legislation, the system of commercial routes and supported services is clearly failing the non-core services and the communities that depend on them. Surely the aim is for the profitable routes to cross-subsidise the uncommercial services?

Many respondents have made reference to the National Bus Pass which entitles the pass holder to free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England.

There have been different suggestions:
– Charge for the actual pass;
– Charge a nominal amount (50p? £1?) for each jounrney; or
– Limit the range to journeys within Devon.

To each and every one of thess the answer is the same (HT Richard Hill of DCC who patiently explains):
– Devon County Council administers the National Bus Pass according to legislation contained in the Concessionary Travel Act 2007.
– As such it is not possible – by law – for Devon County Council to request payment for the first issue of a National Bus Pass or to request that the passenger pay a contribution to the bus fare.
– It would require an act of Parliament to alter the legislation governing the National Bus Pass scheme.”

Promoting #PassengerPower on #CowickPBus

COWICK MEDIA RELEASE
28 January 2015 | For immediate release

Promoting passenger power on the P bus

Evening and Sunday services on the P bus through Cowick are under threat, after Devon County Council announced a public consultation of the future of subsidized bus routes throughout the County.

The proposal is to withdraw the late evening buses Monday to Saturday meaning that the final service to Crossmead from the High Street would depart at 2012, and the final journey back to the city centre would depart Cowick at 2028.

Cllr Paul Bull has long campaigned on issues surrounding the P bus, including the route the service takes.

“I’ve already highlighted that it seems strange that the only bus route through the main part of the ward goes nowhere near the GP surgery that looks after the health of the residents of Cowick.

“And now I have grave concerns about these proposals – they will increase social isolation of an elderly and ageing population, that also suffers from bad or very bad health, and where 1 in 4 households doesn’t own a car.

“Even DCC’s own Equaltiy Impact Assessment warns: ‘…some communities are likely to have their last bus or public transport service withdrawn, and be left isolated for anyone who does not have access to a car.’

“Along with my City and County Co-Councillors, I will be working to ensure as many passengers know about these proposals and find ways to respond.

“The problem is that Devon has taken a digital-by-default approach. I don’t think that’s appropriate for a ward were residents either doesn’t have access to the internet or reluctant to use IT engage with such consultations.

“We will be looking to run surgeries of the P bus to talk with passengers about these proposals and find ways to pass them back to Devon County Council.

This consultation closes on Monday 20 April 2015 and any accepted proposals will be implemented during the second half of 2015.

Notes for Editors:
[1] Devon County Council – Public Transport Review
https://new.devon.gov.uk/publictransportbudget/

[2] Key facts about Cowick from 2011 Census
http://www.exeter.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1586&listid=1565

[3] DCC – Equality Impact Assessment of Public and community transport budget reductions
https://new.devon.gov.uk/publictransportbudget/files/2014/07/public-transport-reductions-2014-2017-impact-form-Nov-14.pdf

[4]  From the consultation webpage for those who want paper copies of the consultation:
If you need more information, a different format or have a question:
Phone 0345 155 1015
Email publictransportreview-mailbox@devon.gov.uk
Text 80011 (start your message with the word Devon)
Textphone 0345 155 1020
Write to Transport Coordination Service, Devon County Council, County Hall, Exeter EX2 4QW