Government determined to ban CCTV parking enforcement

21 Jun

So… the government intends to ban the use of CCTV enforcement of parking regulations (except in a small number of situations which will be determined by the Secretary for State for Transport). It also intends to introduce a number of other changes that will make it harder for councils to discourage pavement parking by including statutory ‘grace’ periods for people who park for too long in metered locations and who park illegally on yellow lines and also by introducing mandatory discounts for motorists who lose appeals for parking fines (yes ‘who lose’!).

It appears that both the Communities Secretary and the Transport Secretary have strong feelings on the subject and are comfortable speaking very emotively on the subject. To quote (my emphasis):

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary: “CCTV spy cars can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit for town halls. Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street, push up the cost of living and cost local authorities more in the long term”  21 June 2014

Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary: “Unfair parking fines blight the use of our high streets and force shoppers out of towns. We want to rein back aggressive rules by banning the use octavo for parking enforcement, reviewing the use of yellow lines, and giving shoppers a ‘grace period’ to get back to their car after their ticket has run out before they get fined”  December 2013

OK, so we have spy, lurking, raking-in, cash, greedy, over-zealous, unreasonable, stealth and undermine in one press release and unfair, blight, force, aggressive in another balanced rather delightfully by the word grace for motorists who park illegally!

We also have a bunch of unproven assertions: Where is the evidence that this will ‘push up the cost of living’ or ‘cost local authorities more in the long term’. How on earth can the use of CCTV enforcement both be ‘raking in cash for greedy councils’ and also ‘cost local authorities more’?

And then there is weird statement: “Public confidence is strengthened in CCTV if it is used to tackle crime, not to raise money for council coffers” Eric Pickles October 2013.

Ignoring for now the emotive use of the word ‘coffers’, is he suggesting that people who are fined for illegal parking have not committed a ‘crime’. Really? The Oxford English Dictionary states that a crime is “an action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law“. Is this another example of motoring law being put into a separate category of ‘not really very important laws which need not be adhered to if you can get away with it’.

A large number of organisations responded to the  consultation including:

  • Local Government Association
  • London Councils
  • British Parking Association
  • Disabled Motoring UK
  • Living Streets
  • Brake
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind  
  • Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACT)
  • Passenger Transport Executive Group  
  • Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

In their detailed response the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety noted that:

  • the consultation paper reads as though the Government has already made up its mind that local authorities are too severe when it comes to both the cost of permitted parking and the enforcement of penalties.
  • the extent to which this consultation represents real engagement likely to result in fruitful dialogue, is brought into doubt specifically by the fact that the paper makes it plain that certain, important decisions have already been taken, and that Government policy is, in key respects, not still under consideration. Paragraph 1.1, for example reports the pre-emptive freezing of parking penalty charge levels; while paragraph 4.1 states the Government’s intent to abolish the use of CCTV for parking enforcement
  • the consultation paper does not refer to, let alone make available, a robust evidence base for the changes in policy in question. Rather, these changes seem to be most strongly influenced by a record of anecdotal “concerns about over – zealous parking enforcement and high parking charges” that were expressed to the Transport Select Committee in 2013.
  • PACTS considers that the basis of the Government’s case for abolishing CCTV enforcement – that “it would more appropriate, fairer and straightforward for a parking warden to deal with contraventions” (paragraph 4.2) – is not justified by any evidence presented
  • CCTV is widely used in other areas of public realm, particularly in town centres, by the public and private sectors, to assist with a range of safety and security functions. To arbitrarily ban the use of CCTV for parking enforcement would not be justified or logical.
  • it is quite reasonable to review local parking arrangements periodically. However, we are not convinced that new powers or duties are required.
  • any grace periods should be a matter for local determination and dependent upon the specific circumstances, not for national prescription. Mandatory grace periods would no longer be grace periods.
  • PACTS urges the Government to make it simpler for local authorities to enforce against these matters, particularly parking on the footway which causes obstruction and road danger to pedestrians and mobility impaired people as well as costing local authorities substantial sums for footway repairs. The law is currently inadequate and l ocal authorities need effective legislation to tackle this problem.

The British Parking Association said:

  • there is no regulatory impact assessment on these proposals. There can be no doubt that there are very significant impacts on road users (particularly disabled people and children), on local authorities and on businesses, and the Association is very disappointed that no attempt has been made to quantify these impacts. In particular, there is no equality impact assessment.
  • the Consultation is derived from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s objective of revitalising the high street. This is a laudable objective and one which our local authority members have always taken very seriously, but traffic and parking management is also about tackling congestion, improving road safety and encouraging more sustainable forms of transport.
  • the Consultation appears to be based on concerns by a minority of road users who receive penalty charge notices. The Government should understand that a small minority of motorists receive penalty charge notices – most research indicates around 20%. The vast majority (the silent majority) benefit from the activities undertaken by local authorities to address the small minority who park in contravention of parking controls. That is not to say that that minority should not be treated fairly but we do believe that the Government should be proportionate in its response to this minority.
  • an underlying theme of the Consultation is that new technology somehow is a threat to motorists. On the contrary, new technology has significantly improved the offer to motorists, best illustrated by the use of mobile phone parking which enables motorists to be alerted to time expiry and remote topping up of time. In many other areas of Government activity new technology is being embraced positively (like the Cabinet Office’s “Digital by Default” programme) – why is this not the case with parking management?
  • the BPA believes that parking enforcement is in the main being applied fairly and reasonably throughout the UK. Constant criticism from government and the media is neither constructive nor helpful in promoting a rational debate which is why we have arranged a Parking Summit on 27 February 2014.
  • no, we do not agree [with a grace period after appeal]; it completely misunderstands and undermines the purpose of the penalty charge in the first place. • Is the government really advocating a 25% discount on the statutory parking penalty charge for parking illegally and losing an appeal?
  • there are no parking controls in place that have not been sanctioned and approved by locally elected politicians. Locally elected politicians already have the powers to decide when and where parking controls are deployed and how they are enforced.
  • the prospect of introducing grace periods for prohibited parking is unworkable; if there is room for people to park without causing a danger or obstruction to others then prohibited parking should be converted to permitted parking.
  • mandatory grace periods become the expected norm and give rise to further claims of unfairness if the grace period is exceeded by short periods.

Living Streets responded with this:

  • the Government‟s concern for struggling local shops, town centres, high streets and parades is creditable, but its proposed changes to local authority parking management and enforcement will achieve little and cost more. It has latched on to the perception held by businesses (and some members of the public) that more parking spaces, lower parking charges or even better „free‟ parking will halt this decline. However, as Living Streets‟ recent report “The pedestrian pound” the business case for better streets and places‟ shows, there are many factors contributing to this decline.
  • the allegation has been made that some local authorities use parking charges to raise revenues. Where there is evidence of this illegal activity it should be dealt with appropriately. Good parking management is essential for all road users, especially the most vulnerable: pedestrians. The use of CCTV to enforce parking is particularly important to discourage inconsiderate and dangerous parking outside schools.
  • local parking strategies and parking enforcement are local matters subject to approval by locally elected councillors. That same democratic process allows local residents and businesses raise issues of local concern. There is nothing to be gained by introducing duplicate powers requiring local authorities to review their parking provision.
  • space in towns and cities is at a premium and the needs of drivers to park their vehicles must be weighed against the equally necessary freedom of movement of pedestrians – especially younger, older or disabled pedestrians to walk safely, for pedestrians to access public transport, and for businesses to operate effectively.
  • from our experience of working with schools and parents we know that this danger is, ironically, one of the key reasons why people drive their children to school! “No stopping” restrictions on the yellow zig-zags outside schools have little effect unless enforced – and without cameras they are almost impossible to enforce outside every school, at the same, peak times.
  • Living Streets is calling on the Government to review the current regulatory framework regarding parking on the footway and to bring forward proposals for a nationwide pavement parking ban along the lines of the Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill in Scotland. Poorly parked vehicles can force pedestrians into the road. They can inhibit the independence of many vulnerable people and be particularly dangerous for older people, for families with pushchairs and for those with visual or mobility impairments.
  • there is support for a national pavement parking ban from a number of organisations. A proposed Private Member‟s Pavement Parking Bill was supported by a range of organisations including: Age UK, British Parking Association, Civic Voice, The GlassHouse Community Led Design, Guide Dogs, Keep Britain Tidy, Design Council Cabe, RNIB and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

The District Council’s network, representing 200 district councils responded:

  • the District Councils’ Network recognises the government’s concern for the regeneration of town centres and thriving local areas. District councils are the statutory planning and housing authorities in two-tier areas, and research by the DCN of our members indicates that districts are already working hard to regenerate town centres and high streets, and support business location and expansion and the jobs this brings. Every local area is different and unique, and district councils, not central government, know best what an area needs and what the population expect from their democratically elected representatives.
  • the District Councils’ Network opposes this intention [of banning use of CCTV enforcement]. The DFT’s statutory guidance already states that CCTV cameras should only be used where parking enforcement is difficult, sensitive or not practical for a parking warden to do. The consultation document itself refers to these as “strict requirements”. We feel this statutory guidance is already sufficiently clear and does not need revising. Further, CCTV cameras are more cost-effective than employing traffic wardens. They also provide a clear record of any parking contravention that has occurred, ensuring that councils can fairly and reasonably apply the rules.
  • if the government does decide to abolish the use of CCTV cameras for parking enforcement, any changes to the statutory guidance that have resource implications should be fully met by central government.
  • district councils already review their parking arrangements actively and regularly as part of good town centre management. Citizens with concerns about parking can already make representations to their directly elected councillors, and many do. The reality is that some unwelcome parking or traffic management restrictions are in place for safety reasons; and if community reviews are introduced, councils must have the ability to explain to residents why these restrictions are in place. Further, councils are experiencing extreme financial pressures, and may not be able to undertake any changes even where councils and residents agree changes would be preferable.

The London Councils responded:

  • government spokesmen have labeled local authority parking enforcement as ‘arbitrary’, ‘unfair’ and designed simply as a way of raising revenue. London Councils refutes all of these descriptions. Enforcing properly made regulations is hardly unfair or arbitrary. It is also clear that local councils are not using parking enforcement with the objective of raising revenue. Not only would this be unlawful (and there is significant public interest from groups on this issue who hold councils to account for this) it would also be a very insecure mechanism for raising revenue as the costs of enforcement take up most if not all the revenue from enforcement.
  • London Councils is also surprised that the consultation document includes no regulatory impact assessment. Such an assessment is considered normal and given the substantial inefficiencies and costs associated with some of the proposals, it is surprising that the Government does not appear to have considered this
  • authorities are advised generally to provide parking provision and set tariffs for short stay parking based on the 85 per cent occupancy rule. Charges are set to manage demand and encourage bay turnover, as this in turn maximises access. If the tariff is set too high, vehicles will not park and bays will remain empty. Such an outcome would quickly lead to pressure on the authority to cut charges and even on a strict financial model, high charges with low occupancy are not financially optimum. If the tariff is set too low for the demand, then you do not get the turnover of spaces, and congestion increases as vehicles circle searching for space. In high streets this makes the location less attractive and does not lead to any more people able to visit local shops. Research has shown that where tariffs are too low, ‘searching’ traffic makes up as much as 30% of traffic flow, which does not simply lead to additional and unnecessary congestion but also to extra pollution. Neither of these make the location attractive to shoppers or visitors. It is in the interest of every borough to get this balance right.
  • estimated calculations would suggest that only 0.15 per cent of parking acts result in the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in London. This represents a tiny fraction, and would seem to indicate that the overwhelming majority of motorists do not receive PCNs. This suggests some over emphasis of the scale of any ‘parking problem’ and this is reinforced by research from the RAC which shows that the average motorist pays only £47 a year on parking, compared to more than £1,500 a year on fuel.
  • more parking does not necessarily mean greater commercial success. A well managed parking scheme, where spaces ‘turn over’ frequently can help increase the number of visitors coming to a town centre, and thereby help business.
  • shopkeepers consistently overestimate the share of their customers coming by car. This can be by as much as 400%. In London the share of those accessing urban centres on foot or by public transport is much greater. Walking is the most important mode for accessing local town centres; public transport is the most important mode to travel to International centers (e.g. Oxford Street)
  • London Councils does not agree that CCTV use should be banned, and strongly disagrees with this proposal. CCTV cameras are a vital enforcement tool and any ban would significantly reduce the effectiveness of parking enforcement and have a negative impact on the road traffic network. The use of CCTV outside schools is undertaken to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable road users. It has proved vital in changing parking habits and had a positive effect on road safety.
  • there are many situations where the physical presence of a CEO does not act as a deterrent, as drivers see the officer, move the vehicle, and then move it back when the CEO has left. The threat of CCTV eliminates this problem, and therefore increases compliance.
  • removing the ability to enforce by CCTV would result in significantly increased costs to achieve equitable levels of compliance. Any proposed alternatives would be a backward step for efficiency gains that authorities are striving to deliver in a challenging economic climate.
  • London Councils does not agree that a discount should be offered at appeal stage. It would be hugely costly to implement, encouraging more appeals, with potentially little chance of success and raise unrealistic expectations amongst motorists. No other part of the judicial process in England and Wales encourages someone to pursue a case, and be rewarded for losing. It is, therefore, disproportionate, likely to lead to an abuse of the Parking and Traffic Appeals system and an unnecessary waste of public resources.
  • London Councils does not believe that there should be a ‘statutory’ grace period. The suggestion is unsatisfactory in any circumstance, as motorists would see this as a free parking period, and therefore a right. Motorists would then adjust their habits accordingly, which would have severe consequences on traffic flow and congestion.
  • the introduction of new technological parking solutions (such as payments by mobile phone) now make it easier for a customer to receive warnings and reminders about their remaining time, and top up if necessary. Therefore customers using such options (and these are increasing) should not be in a situation where they are late back to the vehicle.
  • the notion of introducing grace periods where parking is prohibited is unworkable. It is likely that this would see:
    • an increase in congestion and vehicles causing an obstruction.
    • an increase in accidents and road safety incidents.
    • a reduction in the ability to control traffic flow.
    • a reduction in the space for those that actually need it, which would include delivery drivers and blue badge holders.
    • actual damage to the (limited) effect that parking has on high street revival.
    • an increase in motorist confusion about where and when they can and cannot park.
    • encouragement for motorists to disregard parking controls in general.

The consultation responses were evenly divided for and against. According to Roads Minister Robert Goodwill when he appeared before the Transport Select Committee in March 2014: In response to the proposal for a period of ‘grace’, the response was exactly 50:50; 45% of organisations were in favour and 55% were against and  51% of individuals were in favour with 49% against. In response to the proposal that motorists should be entitled to a discount if they pay a fine promptly after having lost on appeal 56% of respondents overall were against the change, including 77% of organisations and 46% of individuals.

It does very much look as reasoned argument is not going to make any difference at present, that the government has already made up its mind and that parking issues are going to get worse before they get better.

I enjoyed reading the warning included in the British Parking Authority that the government should “be careful what they wish for”. They urged the Government to “undertake a full impact assessment of any proposal to ensure that what they seek to achieve does not have unintended consequences”.

 

4 Responses to “Government determined to ban CCTV parking enforcement”

  1. Graham Martin-Royle June 22, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    This is the government pandering and kowtowing once again to the motoring lobby. People that park illegally know that they are doing so, so why do they then complain when they get caught out? I, for one, am all for an increase in fines to really hit their pockets, and I’m all for local councils making money out of this. The more that illegal parkers voluntarily contribute to the council coffers, the less that law abiding citizens have to.

    The part about 10 minutes grace is also ill thought out. If there’s no parking allowed, then that should be the limit. If say, 2hrs is allowed, then why stop at 10 minutes over. The claim then would be to have the 10 minutes added to the 2hrs and another 10 minutes allowed on top of that. There would also be claims that it’s unfair to ticket someone s soon as their 10 minutes are up, surely they should be allowed 10 minutes grace on their 10 minutes!

    There was an article in the motoring section of todays Sunday Times about French police clamping down on speeders. They insist on immediate payment of fines and can, in certain circumstances ban you from driving immediately for 3 days. Maybe if that attitude were taken here people would treat the law with a little more respect.

  2. Andrea Elcombe June 23, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    Most of us disabled don’t like this parking on pavement as after they have left you find broken paving slaps or oil over the pathway and no way round. At what cost when you get home you have to try to get this oil for your wheels. Now if you us a wheelchair is for a good reason. If this has escaped these people at Westminster we find it hard enough to get around with out having to get out of or chairs to clean off the wheels before going in doors. When you can’t use the path and go on the road to were you want to go you get motorist tell you, you should be on the path. I’m telling you now there is not a place I would like to be than on the path away form you. The only thing is if you did not make path impassable by wheelchair in the first place we would not be on the roads. We hear all this about making or roads safer what if you make paths safer and keep wheelchair off the roads and the elderly out of hospitals with broken bones from tripping over the damage done by the cars to the pavements. Enforce the laws on pavement parking. If that mean more fines and cctv car keep them! I don’t make any apology’s for the government and home office your just as bad as these motorist to fat and lazy to walk that little bit further you would rather park on the paths making life harder then it should be for us elderly and disabled. I call that being selfish and ignorant to the need of others. I will spell it out roads for cars paths for pedestrian’s. Park on paths no. keep on roads if you have to cross the path cross it fully them park. Keep the paths clear what do the Government , Police and Enforcement office not understand about that. You get Police saying it the Enforcement officer job, or the other way round then it becomes no ones does job. Well it does not get done which ever way you look at it. Well you have been do such go good job on the paths I have given up using them. I don’t care if you are behind me late for an important meeting. Please don’t say it against the law to use wheelchair on the road if you got paths that are unusable then there is no path and by law pedestrian’s are allowed to walk on the roads were there no safe/unusable path ways. You can bet your life on it if we pedestrian’s started walking along the roads so that their pressures car could not use them you would have an army of police on duty get you for the road. They would not be using that old excuse that got more important thing to do. Like doing someone for jay walking. If you are not in a car your a second class citizen but if your in a wheelchair I have had police say that they can get through so nor Obstruction to path but you can’t get a wheelchair passed? You point out by law an Obstruction is. You get blank look. You complain to Police standards or Ombudsman all you get is control and direction matters stop them doing anything about it. One you have already got a police officer there. They had time to do something even if it was just put warning notice on the car but not even that. your enforcement officer have to have two wheels on pavement or over 1/3 of car over hanging path which could be 4 feet on 4 feet 6 inch path, before it an obstruction? I have asked how do you get by with just 6 inches of path. I want tell you the answers I have got they what nightmares are made of risk braking your neck the drive your chair into the road with fast moving cars from behind parked van which you can’t see round before your in the road. It make you think that every one wants you dead. And what for to park a lump of junk with a motor on a path. What question do they ask if you want to work in Government or Local Government. Have you got any common senses if you answer yes you don’t get the job. As for road safely all they want to protect is their cars not us human beings. By their action or none action proves that. If you had two pothole one on the road and one on the path both the same size which one would get repaired?. The one on the road ask for the one on the path you get it not at intervention level. I got news for these councils and the Government that the intervention level depth is less on the path than the roads. Just look at size of the wheels on a car to the ones on a wheelchair. You can ask all your scientific bods will tell you that the impact on the smaller wheel would be greater on the smaller wheel than the larger one. The would be a waste of time as they never take notice of what they are told. You have to ask yourselves why?. easy answer they just don’t want to do it would rather spend money on the roads for there cars to hell with you disabled you cost us money as it is. I got news for them I did not ask to be disabled it happened that life you could be next. I would not wish that on anyone but you should try it some day for just as week only going out in a wheelchair the you my understand just how hard it can be. It not the public as a whole it always that one or two people that make your life harder. Just like the time I had letter for job centre someone claimed that I was not disabled and I can’t get out without my wheelchair. Then when you do you can’t get on buses because it full or ramp don’t work. This in the winter it not on. Now you got pavement unfit for uses and nothing is being done why we got all these potholes. This happens year after year and the path never get done unless someone get injured that when it becomes to late. Intervention should be before any accident not after that is good management of the highway. All they have to do is hear what is be said by us few that keep on to them about certain paths that are bad and do sometime. They wont do that as they Know if they did you would get more complains as people would start making more. At the moment you have got this thing waste of time they wont do anything that is what they want make their live easy. We the pedestrian’s pay or fair share to wards these services but are not getting them. Miss Andrea Elcombe

    • Graham Martin-Royle June 23, 2014 at 8:21 am #

      Andrea, I cannot argue with anything you say here. I find it disgusting that those in positions of authority allow motorists to get away with so much and that those members of society that, like yourself, are already disadvantaged by being disabled should be treated with what amounts to contempt. You say that you are treated as second class, I say that all pedestrians are being treated as second class, you are treated as third class!

      As you point out the local authorities will quickly repair potholes in a road but when it comes to pavements (which have been damaged by so many vehicles being parked on them) you can wait a lifetime to get a repair.

      As for obstruction, I keep on asking to be shown, in the legislation, just what obstruction is defined as. It appears that it is being left up to those who deal with it to define it. That is not satisfactory. My definition is that anything which causes me to alter my path is obstructing me. But the police will not accept that and come out with this nonsense about someone pushing a child in a buggy being able to get through!

      What nonsense. How do they define the size of a buggy? What if the buggy you’re pushing is wider than their standard? What if two buggies are going in opposite directions, one of them must then be obstructed. The answer is simple, roads for vehicles, pavements for pedestrians and the police, even if they don’t want to, MUST enforce the law at all times and in every road.

  3. Andrea Elcombe June 25, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Graham legislation for obstruction is not that clear as it does not mention cars but it does say objects left on the path. Can someone tell us if a car is not an object what is?. We all now the law it down to who and how, there the one would call a car a car so it is not an object. Which is a load of ——. As for the obstruction you would have to look at other laws. If you put a sign on the path this go for your county & local councils and there is not at lest 1 meter left clear it is an obstruction by law of the footpath. I would point out that this is absolute minimum width but it also says 1.5 meter ideally. It is there for any thing that blocks the path and does not leave 1 meter clear should also be classed as an obstruction. I afraid that trying to get police or enforcement officer to see this as common sense. You what a standard you got one. You you at guide line to construction of footways this also tells you he absolute minimum for a path is 1.3 meter this is to allow two buggies to pass. If we look at this absolute minimum of 1.3 meter and the ideal of 1.5 meter this should be the standard that is set for an obstruction of a footpath. Anything under the 1.5 meter to 1.3 meter should get at lest a warning notice put on them anything for 1.3 to 1 meter a fine, under that then tow them away plus fine. I have used an bit of common sense and a fair mind to come to this conclusion. After saying that I agree that parking on pavement should by banned and stop altogether.

    Now lets get on to the subject of pavement repairs. We have all seen how badly some are done. Lump of tarmac that are not flush with the rest of the path your told that when the earth settles if will be level? I have never seen this happen has anyone else. broken slaps relayed an not replaced so you get dip in centre of it. When you get about 40% of the path like that you want to go over it in a wheelchair. Now kids don’t try this at home comes to mind. What should be called a path? My view is a path should be level and flat and not a model for some farm track. Sorry farmer your tracks are better the some of the path I have seen but you get the idea. The insult is when you get so jumped up jobs worth telling you there is nothing wrong with it. When you ask them to try going alone it in wheelchair them tell you that. Your told you are being unreasonable? All you have asked them to do is find out what it like for disable people on that path. They wont do it because they KNOW what you are telling them is the TRUTH it harder to say no then. I would just like to remind these jobs worth that one day you may be in a chair just like myself then you will be saying the same as me about the jobs worth doing your job. I would like to say I wish you no harm and hope you don’t end up in a chair or need so other aid to get about as it is not as easy as say no.
    Miss Andrea Elcombe

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