Tesco appear to need help, and I am not talking about their ‘ shock profits warning‘ last week after which their UK boss quit; I am referring to a phone conversation I had with them yesterday following a complaint I had made in which they assured me that Tesco require all drivers to abide by all laws, including all motoring laws at all times. Now this is very interesting because rule 145 in the Highway Code which reads “You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency” with a penalty of £500 for each offense (Highways Act 1835 section 72). They assured me that they never allow their staff to break this law!
HA1835 S72 has of course been almost completely ignored. A FOI request I made on the Suffolk police last year showed that they had only prosecuted 6 people county wide for this offense during 2009, which included prosecuting kids for riding motorbikes on heaths and bridleways etc. They were not able to identify the circumstances of each incident and I suspect that none related to people parking vehicles on pavements. What I have did notice while researching this post was an article in the Daily Mail which claimed that ‘only’ seventeen cyclists were prosecuted for cycling on the pavement in London in 2008 (which the DM thought though was way too low of course).
The police tell me that it is impossible to prosecute pavement parkers using HA1835 S27 because they would need to wait and gather evidence as to who was actually doing the driving. Technical advances have of course come to the rescue, and suddenly most of us carry the necessary evidence gathering equipment with us all the time; phone/cameras proved crucial following the London riots, and also resulted in the conviction of a police officer for the unlawful killing of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots. I see no reason why we can’t use them for our purposes now.
I think we need a test case; a quick internet search shows that many people are upset about Tesco driving (and parking) on pavements and also littering pavements generally; and that is without even getting into the wider issues relating to their size and business practices. Are they a suitable target for our purposes? I use the word ‘target’ deliberately, because I think we need to focus on a single large public company that disregards the law every day all across the country and make an example of them that they, and others, cannot ignore. We could of course choose any of the delivery companies (DHL, TNT etc) who are equally bad, however I think Tesco are the best one for us, especially given their assurances that they always obey all laws! Please let me know what you think in the comments section? Will you be able to help by gathering video of local examples? Fyi, we have been offered the support of a powerful environmental law company with this campaign and they should be able to help out along the way with this particular project.
Finally, here are some photos. The first two are from the Daily Mail who campaign vigorously when it comes to riding bicycles on the pavements, as in this example where they even quote the highway code rule ‘You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement’ in virtually the first sentence! However.. they don’t even mention that both of these Tesco vans have broken the highway code in a similar manner and that the first has completely blocked the pavement!