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]

Pavement Parking – the currrent situation in Exeter

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Dear Living Streets

Well done over recent days and weeks on the street parking issue in support of Martin Horwood’s Private Members’ Bill.

I’ve been meaning to do this for some while – update you on the current situation in Exeter.

As the appendix to your execellent guide [Policy Briefing 01/10 – Parking and the pedestrian] from February 2010 points out – pavement parking USED to be illegal under the by-law contained within the Exeter Act

Unfortunately when parking enforcement moved from police (criminal offence) to county (civil), the powers that be didn’t transfer the powers they held under Exeter Act.

Over the last 3 years, Exeter Highways & Traffic Orders Committee have been trying to rectify this situation but have been stymied by Secretary of State for Transport who had decreed that current signs on all boundaries are not sufficient to allow enforcement and has told DCC officers that repeater signs would need to be installed every 400m or so.

Gateway sign as required by s30 of Exeter Act 1987
Gateway sign in Cowick as required by s30 of Exeter Act 1987

Even ingnoring the cost of several £100ks, this seems ot go against all other directives about reducing street clutter.

There are some roads (even in my own ward) where, if pavement parking was prevented, legal parking would make the streets too narrow for traffic to pass. We often have problems on one road, where legal parking prevents the only bus for the ward getting down the street!

So I’m keem 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.

But for now, DCC officers are letting discussions in Parliament take their (extremely slow) course.

Keep up the good work

Paul

Ask your MP to back the Pavement Parking bill now.

A message from Living Streets about Martin Horwood’s Pavement Parking Bill 2014, which is scheduled to receive it’s Second Reading on 12 September 2015.

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Dear Paul,

Pavement parking is a daily obstacle course that forces parents with children, older people and those with less mobility to walk unsafely in the road. Outside London, the law on pavement parking is confusing and makes it difficult for councils to crack down on irresponsible parking.

But right now we’ve got a chance to change this. We asked MPs to submit a bill to Parliament making pavement parking illegal, and Martin Horwood MP heard us. He’s tabled a bill that would prohibit pavement parking across England and Wales.

We have a rare chance to get the law changed and protect our streets all over the country. But Martin needs the support of other MPs for the bill to be progressed.

We need to act quickly – Martin Horwood’s bill reaches its second reading this Friday 12th September. Whether it goes any further depends on MPs supporting it in Parliament.

They need to know this is important to us. They need to hear what a difference could be made to people’s lives with a proper ban on pavement parking. Contact your MP now, asking them to attend the debate and support the bill.

The frustration and the dangers caused by pavement parking aren’t the only reason to act, it’s costing us a small fortune. Between 2006-10 council’s spent £1 billion on fixing pavements and £100 million on compensation to people hurt on damaged pavements. That money could be used for real improvements to streets, not just patching up damage caused by irresponsible parking.

Let your MP know now that you need a proper law on pavement parking. Email them now.

Thank you,

Anna Collins
Policy & Campaigns Coordinator, Living Streets

P.S. It’s important we act now on this rare opportunity, with the second reading just days away. Please take a moment now to contact your MP.

Exeter HATOC | Could the Slough model of pavement parking work in Cowick?

Yet again the issue of parking on pavements has surfaced, this time at the meeting of Exeter HATOC held on 22 July 2014.

 attended the meeting on in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item:

When this debate started a few years ago when Exeter HATOC wanted the section 30 of the 1987 Exeter Act which banned pavement parking  implemented,  I knew what I wanted. 

I wanted the provisions reinstated as I knew that parking on the pavement was

–         bad for those with mobility issues

–         bad for those (like my dad) with visual impairments

–         bad for mums using buggies 

But then I look what would happen to some of the streets in in my ward of Cowick. 

–         Merrivale Road might need to become one-way? 

–         Buses would no longer be able to get down Barley Farm Road?

I’ve not experienced it but I have seen a picture taken by Cllr Heather Morris where she was stuck behind a bus for many minutes as the bus driver honked his horn to try and get some cars to move. 

So is there a middle way that helps both?

Slough have just been piloting a scheme in some areas where a white line is painted on the pavement to indicate how far cars can encroach onto the pavement

These would be positioned so as to ensure that a wheelchair or buggy could still pass safely on the footpath 

I understand that local highways authorities have the power under Traffic Regulations Act 1984 to make TROs that allow for specific parking restrictions in specific areas, to deal with the demands of local circumstances. 

There are some streets in Cowick that already allow for pavement parking – they are so narrow that there are few other options. 

Is there any scope for a further exploration of the Slough model partial pavement parking provision?

The minutes of the meeting are available here.

Pavement parking off Alphington Road

I’ve already covered the problems of pavement parking and parking on corners in earlier blogs.

Over in Alphington, there’s series of small, narrow streets with plenty of corners (and little parking space) centred around Coverdale Road and Ebrington Road.

The Alphington Neighbourhood Beat Team have issuing a letter to the residents making them aware of these parking issues.

The letter reminds residents  the that parking too close to the junctions causes limited visibilty to drivers and pedestrians – and that by doing so, they are breaking the law.

The Alphinton NBT hope, that by issuing this letter, that residents will be considerate to others and not park in a dangerous or inconsiderate manner.

I hope that by issuing this letter to the residents it will make you aware of this parking issue and that you’ll make sure it’s kept clear of obstructing vehicles.

 

Let’s see if the letter  makes any impact and we’ll start to see that these streets are  kept clear of obstructing vehicles.

First thoughts on pavement parking

I’m often contacted about the issue of parking on pavement.

Surely it’s easy to stop pavement parking, isn’t it? You just don’t do it, as it’s against the law (and the Highway Code) and if you do, you can be given a ticket

Everyone seems  to think it’s illegal and against the law – I’m still trying to get my head round the problem, but this issue isn’t as simple as it seems to work out.

Let me try and explain.

Most parking and traffic issues are the direct responsibility of Devon Country Council acting as the highways authority.

In 1987, Exeter became one of the few places outside of London where parking on the pavement became illegal – under a by-law put forward by Exeter City Council known as the Exeter Act 1987. On all the outer borders of Exeter you’ll see a sign saying “No parking on footways, verges or central reserves”. This is a sign specific to Exeter and has to have special approval from the Secretary of State for Transport.

nadder-park-road-obscured-sign-02
No Pavement Parking gateway sign on Barley Lane [although it is actually facing the wrong way!]
So the situation was that Exeter City Council had a by-law that Devon County Council had to implement as highways authority.

Parking enforcement used to be carried out by traffic wardens, working for Devon and Cornwall Police. In this respect they issued parking tickets for parking on pavements.

In May 2008, responsibility for parking enforcement passed to Devon County Council [DCC] and they put in place a system whereby Exeter City Council – through Civil Parking Enforcement Officers – issue PCN tickets for stationary vehicle offenses as an agent of DCC [phew!]

In the transfer, someone somewhere forgot the Exeter Act.

In trying to resolve the issue over the past few months, the Department for Transport [DfT] have become involved and said that to be able to enforce the by-law those signs with SofS approval need to be more frequent – suggesting 1 every 450m of so. The cost of this would run into hundreds of thousands.

So at present DCC are negotiating with DfT over this issue – and its seems are currently at stalemate

DCC through the Exeter HATOC {Highways and Traffic Order Committee] on which I sit as an ECC elected member alongside all 9 DCC County Councillors ares till trying to resolve this matter.