Relief as Exeter City Council takes action on St Thomas arches

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Media Release | 18 October 2016


 Relief as Exeter City Council takes action on St Thomas arches

At the Exeter City Council meeting held on 18 October, Councillors formally approved the £50,000 budget to install fencing the length of the arches. This follows repeated complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour in the area.

Councillor Hannah Packham said “It has been a really difficult and distressing period for residents, with totally unacceptable behaviour taking place directly next to, and occasionally on, their properties. I have been working with ECC, Riverside Leisure Centre, the Neighbourhood Policing team and Network Rail to find a solution.

“Some neighbours were interested in using the space to accommodate community and business opportunities. Unfortunately the cost of waterproofing the arches for business use, which we lease from Network Rail is just too high, so fencing is he most viable option.

“I am pleased that ECC has agreed the £50,000 funding which will hopefully make such a difference to residents’ quality of life.”


Cllr Hannah Packham with Network Rail at St Thomas Railway Arches


Notes for Editors

[01] ECC Executive meeting held on 12 September 2016 noted the delegated decision taken by Assistant Director Environment in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Place to approve emergency capital funding of £50,000 from the 2016/17 General Capital Fund for improvements to the Railway Arches at Riverside, Cowick Street; these improvements to prevent unauthorised access to the under-space of the arches and the south access strip of land between the arches and the rear gardens of Beaufort Road.



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


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.



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.


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

Cowick Part-Night Street Lighting | Crossing the boundaries

As part-night street lighting starts to roll out across the city, local councillors are trying to taka a proactive approach to help Devon County County introduce the scheme in a safe and co-ordinated way

The West Exe team of Labour councillors are doing their best to let residents know when PNSL will start in their street.

That aim is quite easy to achieve in the middle of wards…but is proving a little difficult in the streets that straddle ward boundaries.

Take the case of Church Path Lane – most of the length of this street is in St Thomas ward, but along  the stretch from Cowick Lane to Larch Road the right hand side is in Alphinton.

When I questioned Devon what would happen here, I was told that the lights here would join the PNSL scheme when St Thomas lights were switched off from 01 May 2014.

As a result, I assumed that any road straddling 2 wards with different start dates for PNSL, DCC would always take the later date, But that’s not so!

So, for Isleworth Road which forms the boundary between the wards of Cowick and Exeter, lights would start to be switched off when the scheme started in Exwick at the beginning of May.

However, it appears that Isleworth Road is already having its street lights switched off between 00:30 and 05:30, meaning that my Labour colleagues are been contacted about the dark streets.

When I asked about this, I was was told be Devon CC that:

“…in the case of Church Path Road my ward plan shows all three lights within the St Thomas ward. I am not going into this sort of detail at every boundary road, just taking the view what looks practical and what lies predominantly in one ward or other.
“I have not interpreted this in the same way as you have and future switch-offs will be conducted in a similar way.”

With that response, it seems DCC are looking to add confusion along the boundary streets of all wards across the city.

Double yellow lines in Cowick…also Alphington and St Thomas

As Highways Authority, Devon County Council has responsibility for double yellow lines in Exeter.

Getting double yellow lines is an expensive legal process – they need to have a Traffic Regulation Order [TRO] drawn up and sealed for the lines can be painted. The TROs need to be advertised and local residents consulted. Costs may vary but could be around £1000 for an advert plus marking of £500, subject to area and length.

For this reason many double yellow lines are advertised in one single TRO.

I know that that I received comments about  difficulties caused by the P bus terminus at Crossmeads I and talking to other councillors across West Exe, I have made the following suggestions to DCC:

1) Barley Lane opp the bus stop outside Sylvan Heights (maybe also around the speed cushions) – to deal with safety problems highlighted by a local resident.

2) The bend on Cowick Lane – currently the subject of e-mails to Cllr Heather Morris and myself

3) Some of the junctions iin and around Coverdale Avenues – again to address safety issues raised by local residents.

4) Fernadale Road/Chieftain Way junction

In addition, I feel there may be a need to look at traffic exiting Larch Road into Church Path Road. The lower part of Church Path Road is one-way, but traffic is allowed to turn left out of Larch Road.

There is perceived safety issue here and I would like to propose that Church Path Road is made one-way along its complete length [similar to all the other roads in this stretch off Cowick Lane] and there is a no left turn out of Larch Road.

Together these concerns affect Cowick, Alphington and St Thomas.