Today I discovered that councils that completely ignore cars left all over the verges then get agitated when local residents use painted rocks, home-made posts or whatever to protect these very same verges. Councils refer to these rocks as ‘items left illegally on the verge’. take for example this page published by Surrey CC entitled ‘‘Protecting Grass Verges from parking‘: “Some residents may take their own measures to prevent parking (often plant-pot shaped concrete blocks or large rocks). Although these can be aesthetically pleasing, it is an offence to place unlawful items on the public highway. If seen or reported, we have the right to request that the items are removed.” Needless to say, having removed these home made defenses the council in all likelihood doesn’t then have the resources to replace them: “All methods require funding from very limited maintenance budgets. Funding may be provided specifically for verge protection but this is not always guaranteed“.
This same page also confirms that “There is no legal right to park on a road, verge or footway.” (so that makes cars ‘illegal objects’ as well doesn’t it?). So… what does the council do about these car shaped illegal objects? err.. they seem to just pretend that they are not objects after all. So there you have it, simple when you know how!
In a curious twist, verges in Surrey can be protected by a clause in one of those odd local Acts of Parliament which should have died out in Victorian times but which are evidently still being created. In this case the ‘Surrey Act 1985 (section 5) which allows the council to ban verge parking simply by placing a sign saying ‘no parking’ on the verge. Not a lot of people know that and I shouldn’t think it is that effective as a result! Not sure why it was necessary to mention horses and cattle in the 1980s? I wonder how much parliamentary time was taken debating if sheep, swine and cattle should or should not be included?
Here is the relevant section of the Surrey Act 1985:
“This section applies to any of the following land in a district which, being in, adjoining or accessible from a highway, is maintained in an ornamental condition (whether by mowing or otherwise):—
(a) a grass verge,garden,lawn or green managed by a local authority; or
(b) land laid out as a public garden or used for the purpose of public recreation which is vested in a person other than a local authority.
“A local authority may by notice prohibit, either entirely or at such times or on such days as may be specified in the notice, the doing of any of the following things on land to which this section applies:—
(a) driving, riding or leaving vehicles;
(b) allowing horses or cattle to enter;
(c) using any equipment provided on such land.
“A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes a notice displayed under this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.