Being treated with contempt and being ‘in contempt’

25 Jun

Back in 2001 a parliamentary transport committee concluded the pedestrians were treated with contempt. Contempt is an interesting word with two main meanings: The first meaning is given as the ‘an attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless’ and ‘the state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace’. The second (legal) definition is more interesting which is the defined as ‘open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body’. To be ‘in contempt’ there must be a lawful order, the person needs to have knowledge of the order, the ability to comply with the order and to fail to do so. Bill Clinton was found to be ‘in contempt’ when it was proven that he had deliberately given misleading answers to the investigators over the Monika Lewinsky affair.

As pedestrians we seem to have a choice: we can either accept that we are ‘despised or dishonored or in disgrace‘ and are ‘inferior, base, or worthless‘. If we accept this then we should just give up. Alternatively we can decide that the people who are making are lives difficult are ‘in contempt’ and act accordingly!

Here are a few local examples motorists and companies that I consider are ‘in comtempt’. All these photos have been taken in the past 24 hours near where I live. The first to are of vehicles owned by companies that are paid to maintain the highway!

The first vehicle is owned by Carilion plc, who’s moto is ‘making tomorrow a better place’. It is frequently parked across the footway overnight next to a new raised pedestrian crossing. Today there is about 500mm between its wing-mirror and the hedge.

Nice raised crossing, shame about the Carilion ‘highway maintenance’ van across the pavement

The next is a vehicle owned by Peek Traffic (or should that be ‘Peak Traffic’) which is parked on the pavement on double yellows with no-loading pips in such a way that pedestrians can’t use the pavement on the approach to a post office, a co-op and a bus stop. It has its official lights flashing and the driver is doing his paperwork. He says he had a right to park there (he doesn’t). I suggested that he moved off the pavement and onto the hard-standing but he wasn’t interested. Hopefully he will do so next time.

Peek Traffic, disruption for pedestrians

And here is a vehicle owned by Suffolk County Council which is fitted out to move disabled people around. There is no need to be parked up on the pavement at all at this point and it sends out all the wrong messages.

Suffolk County Council – should set a better example really

Of course there are all the other cars left on the pavement that the police refuse to deal with and consequently very narrow spaces left for pedestrians on the approach to schools. There are the maps that don’t including pedestrian routes (even the maps created specifically for pedestrians). When someone does dare to do something about it, as this blind man did in Wales, he got locked up. Another person who shoved a car out of the way that was blocking his garage ended up having to pay for the repair of the pavement parker’s car. There are the local councils that instruct their wheelie-bin collection staff to leave bins all over the pavement rather than back on private property and refuse to discuss the issue. I could go on but I won’t! What is clear is that pedestrians need to get out of victim mode and be a lot more assertive and start by using the right definition of contempt.


Someone, possibly from Peek Traffic but possibly not has corrected me in a comment below saying that highway maintenance vehicles are allowed to ignore waiting restrictions to “allow the maintenace of roads and services there in”.   I will check these regulations at some point to see if they cover this situation.

8 Responses to “Being treated with contempt and being ‘in contempt’”

  1. Graham Martin-Royle June 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    I love the photo of the Suffolk County Council vehicle, it has clearly displayed disabled stickers and yet the driver obviously thought that it was fine to park across a pavement obstructing access for the disabled.

  2. John Thornton July 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Councils in London asked local groups to respond to the Local Implementation Planning consultations on transport. Here’s one you might find of interest.
    All photos free to be reproduced under CC terms, except for Illustration 1 on Page 1 and Illustration 28 on Page 29.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Graham Martin-Royle July 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Thank you for that John, a really interesting piece. Some of those photos are horrendous.

  3. Bob August 16, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    The workman from PEEK traffic is correct.

    The traffic regulation order for the waiting restrictions will have a standard exemption clause to “allow the maintenace of roads and services there in”

    PEEK traffic conduct maintenance work on behalf of the highway authority and therefore have consent to park where necessary within the highway boundary.

    • Peter Miller August 16, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      However… in my opinion there was not necessary for him to park right across the pavement – why did he not park against the building thereby leaving the pavement clear? also… Google search cannot find any occurrences of the exact phrase “allow the maintenace of roads and services there in” so unfortunately I can’t easily find the legislation the person above is referring to.

      • john August 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

        he parked there to do his job get over it you prick there is enough room for people to get by .

      • T.Halward February 23, 2012 at 3:18 am #

        Reply to Peter

        Having worked for a few of the Traffic Management Highways companies I think you’ll find that Peek as well as every other company subcontracted to the maintenance of highways equipment, are excempt to a degree from various waiting and loading restrictions.

        I do however agree to the careless highways van parked above which is also illegal if within london unless signage states otherwise.

        I know for TfL within the Greater London area and possibly beyond, have the right to some (and i use the term loosely) relaxed waiting and loading restrictions under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 & Code of Practice which include double yellows and red routes (stating must cause the least obstruction to both traffic and pedestrians ideally be a width of 1m – 1.5m unobstructed footway for pedestrians to pass not causing danger).

        You will often find that councils and counties have their own policies (and liase with the GLA in london circumstances) and will usually state something like:

        “The restrictions shall not apply to vehicles when used in the service of a local authority in pursuance of statutory powers or duties provided that in all the circumstances it is reasonably necessary in the exercise of such powers or the performance of such duties for the vehicle to wait in the place in which it is waiting.” (Based on NSRWA Code of Practice and Legislation when positioning the vehicle.)

        The main sections of legislation that do relate to this are:
        – Greater London Authority Act 1999; Section 276 & 277
        – If needed the councils waiting and loading restrictions based on the GLA 1999
        – New Roads and Street Works Act 1991; Part III

        Hope this helps.

      • Peter Miller February 23, 2012 at 11:46 am #

        Thank you very much for that. Very helpful to build-up a more complete legislative overview. I also agree with your distinction between breaking the law and being within the law but being a ‘poor citizen’. For example… the Royal Mail can evidently do whatever they like and can ignore most laws, however that doesn’t mean that pedestrians will love them if they block bus routes and pavements without exceedingly good reasons! Similarly for Peek and the other traffic management companies.

        However… I can’t find anything in the Greater London Authority Act 1999 relating to street works. Can anyone give me more details?

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