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Dropped kerbs and ‘Special enforcement areas’

9 Nov

It appears to be a requirement that all rules relating to parking and pavements should be confusing and ineffective and slow to come into force. By way of example, lets look at the relatively introduced legislation which bans parking across dropped kerbs.

This legislation received Royal Assent back in 2004 with the Traffic Management Act of that year. Royal Assent was followed by five years of consultation on these new rules during which time the AA, needless to say, objected saying that it would be entirely unreasonable to expect motorists to know that it was illegal to park on dropped kerbs unless the council installed white lines on every single one at their own cost. I am glad to say that the government ignored them and the legislation was finally ‘enabled’ in June 2009. We should of course be grateful that the legislation was enabled at all, given that legislation which would have banned pavement parking entirely which received Royal Assent in 1974 was never enabled at all!

Now comes the ‘confusing’ bit. As I have said, legislation needs to be confusing. Part of the small print of the 2004 Act says that these new powers will only be available in places that adopt new ‘Special Enforcement Area’ status. Every Council wishing to use these powers then had to apply for this  Special Enforcement Area status (as distinct from ‘Civil Enforcement Areas’ which many had already been granted). To make it more complex Special Enforcement Areas can be applied for covering either an entire area of, or only part of a Civil Enforcement Area.

So.. the next question of course is to find out if my town and which other places have been granted ‘special enforcement area’ status. Is there a national map of these areas? err… no; is there a published list of such areas? err… no. Is it clear from my local authorities website if my town has been granted these powers? err.. no. The only way I found out that they had was to email them. The good news is that it has been enabled in my areas and people do get fined from time to time I understand. The bad news (for pedestrians) is that my local police didn’t even know that it parking across dropped kerbs was actually illegal and apparently refuse to enforce it in some cases. Here is a local driver explaining to be that he finds that this particular dropped-kerb is a very convenient (and often available) parking spot when doing his local shopping.

Blocking a dropped kerb, no problem

HGV spotters guide

10 Sep

Heavy commercial vehicles (ie, goods vehicles with a gross weight of over 3.5 7.5 tonnes) are uniquely subject to a pretty comprehensive ban in respect to parking on the footway or verge thanks to the Road Traffic Act 1988 (Section 19 and 20, Highway Code rule 246). The only exceptions being when they are “unloading in situations where they are not creating a danger and are not causing an obstruction and are where the vehicle is at no time left unattended” or alternatively if they are stopping to save a life put out a fire!

Unfortunately… there appears to be no way to tell from the outside if an HGV is over or under 7.5 tonnes because all HGVs, including the smaller ones with gross vehicle weights of between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes have the letters HGV on their tax disks. The only way is to ask the driver who is probably not going to tell you if he is being naughty! Here is some basic information to tell the difference between them all.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes

These vehicles which are over 7.5 tonnes, also sometimes referred to as ‘large goods vehicles’ are not allowed to park on the pavement as detailed above. The driver of this vehicle (which I believe to be over 7.5 tonnes) is causing such an offense as he shares a cup of tea and a chat with the staff in ‘Motormania’ while blocking the pavement and delaying traffic and buses on a busy road because there is a place round the back to park and he has left the vehicle ‘unaccompanied’. The cement mixer, also over 7.5 tonnes is probably doing loads of damage to the pavement and there seems to be no good reason for it not to be on carriageway so that one is also causing an offence. All of these vehicles have the letters HGV on their tax disks, but unfortunately so do the smaller HGVs and there is no reliable way to tell if a particular vehicle is over 7.5 tonnes.

HGV with two wheels on the footway – an immediate offence

This is definitely an HGV!

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) under 7.5 tonnes

These vehicles, known either as ‘medium goods vehicles’, ‘7.5 tonners’, ‘large goods vehicles’ or HGVs are unfortunately below the weight limit re the 1988 Act and can therefore can park all over the pavements to the same extent that cars can! In addition, there is no way to be sure if it is under over the 7.5 tonne limit or over. The vehicle in the picture below was parked completely legally btw and the driver was very helpful which is why I knew it was just below 7.5 tonnes.

This vehicle is just under 7.5 tonnes (and was parked in a proper parking bay)

Light goods vehicles (LGVs) under 3.5 tonnes

These lighter vehicles, known either as ‘light goods vehicles’ or more correctly as ‘light commercial vehicles’ are also subject to the same weak and ineffective rules as cars. They have ‘LGV’ on their tax disks. Clearly these guys are being pretty thoughtless and the police may consider that they are causing an obstruction, but there is no cut-and-dry offense as there is for the large HGVs. The first guys appeared to make the obstruction even worse by leaving the driver’s door open after I had unsuccessfully  tried to get them to move it off the pavement. The second vehicle (with trailer) often parks on the pavement  but doesn’t always have another car on the back – it must be doing a load of damage to the pavement.  The final vehicle is very tall and wide and leaves very little space for anyone to get by but is not quite an HGV. Why on earth do these companies think it is ok to leave vehicles like these on residential streets every night – I guess it is because it is much cheaper and easier for them and their staff than doing the considerate thing- nice!

Light commerical vehicle (LGV) on the pavement – not in itself an offence

Flatbed truck – also a ‘light commercial vehicle’ (LGV on tax disk)

Specialised fixings (again)

Confusing terminology

The terms in use at present are pretty confusing. Here is a quick primer. The new official harmonised EU term for an HGV is ‘Large goods vehicle’ which has abbreviation of LGV and was adopted in 2001; the EU also recommended the term ‘Light commercial vehicle’ for the goods vehicles of less than 3.5 tonnes at the same time. Unfortunately the UK previously used the abbreviation LGV for ‘Light goods vehicle’ and the DfT is still in a muddle over these terms some parts of the department using LGV for HGVs and other parts (including VOSA) using LGV for the smaller vehicles. To make it worse the DfT also uses the term ‘medium goods vehicle’ for the smaller end of ‘large goods vehicles’ (ones between 3.5 tonnes and  7.5 tonnes) meaning that a vehicle can both be a ‘medium goods vehicle’ and also a ‘large goods vehicles’ at the same time! They also sometimes use the term ‘larger goods vehicle’ which may be different from a large goods vehicle or possibly not – I have no idea. Anyway, all heavy goods vehicles (including the medium goods vehicles) have the letters HGV written clearly on their tax disk because VOSA does that bit and uses the older terms and also puts  LGV on the tax disks of smaller vehicles.


I have updated this article following further investigation into how one can tell the different classes of HGV apart (one can’t it seems!).

Parking controls break down 1930s-1970s

7 Sep

I have been poking around the legislation that used to restrict the parking of vehicles on the highway in the early years. There are a few facts which still need to be worked into a clearer narrative with some gaps which need to be filled in but the general story is pretty clear. It starts with a tough parking regulatory framework where on-street parking is prohibited by default unless permitted in particular places after consultation. This process then melts under the pressure of increasing car ownership (car ownership which grew from 5% of the population having a car in 1930 to 20% by 1960). By 1963 the parking situation was a disaster – as highlighted in the the seminal ‘Traffic in Towns‘ produced in 1963: “the crowding out every available square yard of space with vehicles, either moving or stationary, so that building seem to rise out of a plinth of cars; the destruction of architectural and historical scenes and the intrusion into parks and squares” (page 22-23) The previous regulations, which were not working were quietly ignored and then repealed and were replaced by an ineffectually framework which started with the presumption that parking was allowed unless it was specifically banned. There was then the failed attempt to ban pavement parking in 1974.

Here are two photos from the early 1960s. The first shows a street where cars have ‘taken complete possession of the pavement. The lower image shows Place Vendrome in Paris crammed with cars. I am pleased to be able to report that the square is now almost completely free of parked cars as can be seen using Google Streetview. We are still living with the consequences of this failure. The curious fact however, is that I believe that there is no actual legislation to allow this parking on the road, it just happened and legislators went onto the defensive. See below for a more detailed analysis of how the cars took over.

Indiscriminate parking, as illustrated in Traffic in Towns 1963 (copyright image)

The Road Traffic Act 1930 (section 120) went into considerable detail describing how a local authority could create on-street parking for vehicles with the implication that parking was not allowed in other places. The creation of these parking places was complicated and time consuming and could only be done after extensive publicity and consultation. The 1926 Automobile Association handbook includes a similar description of the process of creating on street parking facilities (on page 183-4) implying that this process must have already been in force at the time. This same requirement was carried forward into the Road Traffic Act 1960 (section 81) only to be repealed by the Road Traffic Act 1972.  To quote the 1930 Act:

Where a local authority propose to make an order under this section authorising the use as a parking place of any land forming part of a street … the local authority shall cause notice of the proposal to be published in at least one newspaper circulating within their district, and shall also cause a copy of such notice to be posted for not less than fourteen days on the land to which the proposal relates, and every such notice shall-
(a) specify the land to which the proposal relates ; and
(b) notify the date (which shall not be less than twenty-eight days) within which any objection to the proposal shall be sent in writing to the local authority; and
(c) contain a notification of the right of appeal conferred by this section.
(3) Before carrying into effect any proposal of which notice is required by this section to be given, the local authority shall consider any objection to the proposal which is sent to them in writing within the time fixed in that behalf, and shall, after so considering it, give notice of their decision to the person by whom the objection was made, and if any person is aggrieved by any such decision he may, within twenty-one days after receiving notice thereof, appeal there from to the sheriff.

The Road Traffic Act 1960 also authorised the use of traffic regulations which in 1963 were used to create the first yellow lines. One has to ask why it was necessary to use yellow lines to prohibit parking on the street when there was a special process in the same act in order to create parking. I think it is clear that parking regulations were being completely ignored by this time and there was no effective action to enforce them. Two years after the legislative process to create parking bays was dropped in 1972 there was the failed attempt within the Road Traffic Act 1974 to ban all pavement parking but this was never enabled during the subsequent 37 years!

The highway code provides an interesting insight into the situation over this time. The first edition of the Highway Code in 1931 said that “No vehicle should be left standing on the highway for a longer time than is reasonable in the circumstances. Do not leave your vehicle at a standstill in such a position as to cause inconvenience to residents of to other users of the road. Draw in your vehicle close to the kerb and do not stop where the road space is already restricted by standing vehicles, road repairs or other obstructions. It is an offence to leave a vehicle in such a position as to cause obstruction. It is also an offence under the road traffic act to leave a vehicle in a position or in a condition or in circumstance likely to be dangerous.” The term ‘reasonable in the circumstances’ seems pretty vague but the general tone is ‘don’t do it’. Curious that there is no reference to the regulations in the 1930 Act and the possibility of permitted parking places – possibly very few had actually been created.

By the time of the 1946 version of the Highway Code this requirement had been deleted entirely, there is no guidance that I can see relating to parking in the code. The 1954 version then introduces the familiar phrase of “You MUST NOT park your vehicle or trailer on the road so as to cause unnecessary obstruction” with reference to section 88 of the Motor Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations 1951 (which I can’t find online at present). What is ‘unnecessary’ obstruction I wonder? People have, of course, been arguing about whether an obstruction was necessary or not every since.

I would like to find the pre-1930 regulations and fill in any details and correct any errors. Do please leave hints for me in the comments section or on twitter if you have more of the story. A big thank you to Dave H (@BCClets) for his tweet which gave me the initial clues to get onto this particular trail. Thanks also to these guys, who published the scans of the old highway codes that I am referring to above.

Things you mustn’t do!

5 Sep

The law has protected pedestrians and other road users over the years from virtually every intrusion into the footway and carriageway except that caused by parked cars. There are some gems contained within section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, all of which carry fines of up to £1,000 and a stay in prison of up to 14 days if one is found to have caused an obstruction, annoyance, or danger. Major sins include beating one’s doormat in the street after 8am and fastening a horse so that it stands across the footway. Those at risk include everyone who…

  • Causes any sledge, truck, or barrow to stand longer than is necessary on the highway for loading or unloading goods, or for taking up or setting down passengers (except hackney carriages or ‘public carriages’ but then only in designated places)
  • Places or leaves any furniture, goods, wares, or merchandize, or any cask, tub, basket, pail, or bucket on any footway
  • Hangs up any goods, wares, merchandize, matter, or thing whatsoever, so that the same project into or over any footway, or beyond the line of any house, shop, or building so as to obstruct or incommode the passage of any person over or along such footway
  • Places any blind, shade, covering, awning, or other projection over or along any such footway, unless such blind, shade, covering, awning, or other projection is eight feet in height at least in every part thereof from the ground:
  • Fixes or places any flower-pot or box, or other heavy article, in any upper window, without sufficiently guarding the same against being blown down:
  • Throws or lays any dirt, litter, or ashes, or nightsoil, or any carrion, fish, offal, or rubbish, on any street, or causes any offensive matter to run from any manufactory, brewery, slaughter-house, butcher’s shop, or dunghill into any street.
  • Beats or shakes any carpet, rug, or mat (except door mats, beaten or shaken before the hour of eight in the morning):
  • Fastens any horse or other animal so that it stands across or upon any footway
  • Rolls or carries any cask, tub, hoop, or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, timber, or log of wood, upon any footway
  • Cleanses, hoops, fires, washes, or scalds any cask or tub, or hews, saws, bores, or cuts any timber or stone, or slacks, sifts, or screens any lime:
  • Makes or repairs any part of any cart or carriage (except in cases of accident where repair on the spot is necessary)
  • Keeps any pigstye to the front of any street, not being shut out from such street by a sufficient wall or fence, or who keeps any swine in or near any street, so as to be a common nuisance
  • Cleans, dresses, exercises, trains or breaks, or turns loose any horse or animal
  • Shoes, bleeds, or farries any horse or animal (except in cases of accident)
  • Slaughters any cattle, except in the case of any cattle over-driven which may have met with any accident

So… it appears that if the Mercedes was a horse or indeed any of the following (barrow, basket, bucket, cask, furniture, goods, horse, merchandize, pail, sledge, truck, tub) and if it was found to have caused obstruction, annoyance, or danger then the owner would be liable for a fine or up the £1,000 or even up to 14 days in prison!

500mm between these two cars

The sorry tale of the Road Traffic Act 1974

7 Aug

Or possibly the title should be ‘how to talk about something for 37 years and achieve very little!

This long story starts with Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 which should have make pavement parking illegal across the country. It was intended to achieve by a further amendment to section 36 of Road Traffic Act 1972 which had already been amended in 1973 to ban on the parking heavily commercial vehicles on pavements by the Heavy Commercial Vehicles (Controls and Regulations) Act 1973.

The new change added the following clause to the 1972 Act: “a person who parks a vehicle, other than a heavy commercial vehicle, within the meaning of section 36A of this Act, wholly or partly— (a) on the verge of an urban road, or (b) on any land which is situated between two carriageways of an urban road and which is not a footway, or (c) on a footway comprised in an urban road,shall be guilty of an offence“.

A pavement parking was however successfully introduced and enabled in 1974 by the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 (Section 15).

So what happened to this national ban? Firstly, one needs to be aware that each section of an Act of Parliament needs to be ‘enabled’ and in some cases (like this one) they never are! The excuses have changed over the intervening 37 years but no new meaningful powers to get cars off general pavements have been introduced. Notice how the excuses for non implementation morph over this period when the number of vehicles on the GB roads has more than doubled.

The bill received Royal Assent in July 1974.

By January 1975 the government was being asked when this section would be brought into operation. The response was:  “Time must be allowed for authorities to survey their areas and prepare exemption orders under subsection (5). My Department is consulting the local authority associations on the length of time required before fixing the date of commencement.

In April 1975 it was: “The Department is consulting the local authority associations over the commencement date for this provision.”

In May 1975:  “I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State—Mr. Neil Carmichael—to the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) on 10th April,—[Vol. 889, c. 463–4.]

In June 1975 it was more encouraging: “I intend in the near future to make a decision on the commencement date for Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974. ”

October 1975: “Local authorities must survey their areas, prepare exemption orders and signs before Section 7 may be implemented in full. Since this must be done within existing resources some delay is unavoidable, but I hope it will be kept to a minimum.”

By January 1976 the reponse was: “Before Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 can be fully implemented local authorities have to arrange for the exemption of roads where it would be necessary to allow footway parking. It will take some time for this work to be completed because it must be accomplished within their present resources. It is hoped to state a date for the full implementation of Section 7 after consultation with local authorities in the spring.”

In February 1976 the Secretary of state was asked twice, and both times pretty much responded with the same message: “Before Section 7 can be fully implemented local authorities must prepare orders exempting from the ban those roads where footway parking should be allowed to continue. With existing resources this is bound to take time. The local authority associations will be consulted in the spring about the prospects for implementation.”

In February 1977 the Bishop of London asked in the Lords: “what is the reason for the delay in introducing regulations to give effect to Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974, and on what date such regulations will be introduced.”

Baroness STEDMAN responded and actually gave a date for implementation. She said: “My Lords, the right reverend Prelate will know that, before footway parking can be banned, work to exempt streets where such parking needs to continue must be completed. With so many pressing calls on their resources, local authorities have not hitherto been able to give this work priority. However, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport has proposed to the local authority associations that the date for making Section 7 operative should be 1st April 1980.”

The bishop pressed further: “My Lords, while thanking the noble Baroness for her Answer and for giving a set date, may I ask whether she will ensure that every pressure is brought to bear upon local authorities to see that the necessary work, which has been provided for on the Statute Book since 1974, is completed in time for the date mentioned?”.

Baroness Streadman responded firmly: “My Lords, my right honourable friend has made it very plain to all the local authority associations that there is no variance from the date. ”

But.. then there was a change in government and the tone changed.

In June 1979 the response was now vaguer: “Since section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 has not been brought into effect, it is not illegal under that Act to park vehicles on footways.” He went on to mutter about yellow lines etc.

By July 1979 the decision was firming up: “In consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, I have decided that this additional task should not be imposed on local authorities and the police when the need to reduce public expenditure is overriding. We reached this conclusion following representations from the English and Scottish local authority associations and from the police. Local authorities already have powers to ban parking on particular stretches of footway, and yellow line waiting restrictions apply to the footway as well as the carriageway. Of course heavy commercial vehicles are also prohibited from parking on footways. Against this background we are therefore deciding to defer implementing section 7 at least for the time being.”

He was pressed on the matter again in October 1979 with similar effect.

In January 1980 Mr. Kenneth Clarke replied to yet another query on the matter and referred back to his earlier response: “Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 already makes provision for a national ban on footway parking beside urban roads, but, although we are very conscious that such parking can be a hazard to blind and disabled pedestrians, amongst others, my right hon. Friend has decided, for the reasons given in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Banks) on 27 July—[Vol. 971, c. 631–32]—that it is necessary to defer implementation of section 7.” He ended saying “We are doing what we can in the present circumstances to discourage footway parking by giving publicity to the inconvenience it causes.”

In July 1980 Mr. Kenneth Clarke answered: I disapprove of parking on pavements and verges which is inconsiderate to other people and can be dangerous to the blind and the disabled. However it would not be sensible to bring section 7 into force until local authorities and the police are in a position to implement and enforce it.

By March 1982 there was no answer, or more accurately it was ” I will answer this question shortly”. The following day the longer response was the more familiar one: “Implementation of section 7 has been deferred because representatives of local authorities and the police are not yet in a position to implement and enforce a footway parking ban. It is an offence under existing law to drive on footways, to park on footways in roads where yellow line waiting restrictions are in force, to park heavy commercial vehicles on footways, and to leave a vehicle in a dangerous or obstructive position. I deplore inconsiderate parking which endangers handicapped people. My Department will issue further publicity material to discourage it.”

And then a same response in July 1982: ” Implementation of section 7 has been deferred because representatives of local authorities and the police tell us that they are not yet in a position to undertake the work necessary to implement and enforce a footway parking ban. However, it is important to realise that it is already an offence to drive on footways, to park heavy commercial vehicles on footways, to park on154W footways in roads where yellow line waiting restrictions are in force, and to leave a vehicle in a dangerous or obstructive position.”

And also in December 1982: ” I assume the hon. Member is referring to Section 36B of the 1972 Act, as inserted by section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1974, which will, when implimented, prohibit parking on the verges and footways of urban roads. Implementation has been deferred because local authorities and the police are not yet ready to undertake the work involved in preparing for and enforcing the ban. There are already a number of ways in which action can be taken against such parking under existing law.”

There was then silence on the matter until March 1985 when a much simpler reason for non-implementation was given: “The need to avoid new demands on public sector resources.”

The Road Traffic (Consequential Provisions) Act 1988 carried this, and other non-enacted provisions of the now repealed 1974 Act forward to the new Act (Schedule 2 paragraph 22). The Road Traffic Act 1988 did however introduce the offence of parking on a shared use path (or cycle track as it is called in the Act) (Section 21) which is useful.

In December 1990 the Secretary of State for Transport was asked to make a statement on the response to his Department’s discussion document issued to local authorities on solving the problems created by parking on pavements. The response was “Over 450 responses were received, expressing a wide range of views. We have concluded that new statutory powers are needed to allow authorities to target problem areas effectively. We are now discussing with the local authorities advice on available engineering measures to deter parking on footways and verges.”

This irritating un-enacted clause from the 1974 Act was then repealed by the Road Traffic Act 1991. Of course this didn’t stop the questions coming. The answers tend to lean more heavily back onto the police and the ineffective law of ‘obstruction’ and to also place great faith on the new powers of decriminalised parking enforcement given to Authorities as part of the 1991 Act.

In February 1991 the question got this response: “The latent power in paragraph 22 of schedule 2 to the Road Traffic (Consequential Provisions) Act 1988 which, if commenced, would introduce a new national offence of parking a vehicle, other than a heavy goods vehicle, on the verge of an urban road, or on the footway or on any land situated between two carriageways on an urban road is being repealed by the Road Traffic Bill. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) on 11 December 1990, at column 344.”

In March 1992 a question referring back to the 1974 act got a nice fluffy response  “We are committed to seeking effective alternative powers to enable local authorities to deal with the problem of parking on footways when a suitable legislative opportunity arises. Meanwhile, general parking restrictions and in some cases local Act provisions, can offer a remedy. The use of high kerbs and other road engineering measures such as bollards can also prove a highly effective deterrent to footway parking, provided proper provision is made for the needs of pedestrians with disabilities”.

In November 1992 the government tried to claim that the current rules could be used effectively saying: “Under the Road Traffic Act 1991 local authorities are able to assume responsibility for all permitted parking controls throughout their areas on  application to us. They can also apply to have special parking areas designated in which they will be able to enforce virtually all parking restrictions. While the police will retain powers to enforce endorsable offences such as obstruction and dangerous parking, local authorities will in practice be able to deal with the vehicle concerned if it is also parked in contravention of a parking regulation”

By 1993 the government was saying that a total ban on pavement parking would be impractical: “While there is a general ban on parking heavy goods vehicles on the pavement, parking other kinds of vehicles there is banned only where it is prohibited by a local Act of Parliament, as in London, where it contravenes a traffic order made by the local traffic authority, or if the vehicle is parked in a dangerous or obstructive position. Responses to the consultation document “Curbing an Abuse”, which we published in 1987, showed that a complete ban would not be practical. It would create severe difficulties for many local traffic authorities, and the police do not have the resources that would be necessary to enforce it effectively.” Also that “I accept that the current situation is not entirely satisfactory, but expect it to improve as local authorities take on responsibility for parking enforcement under the arrangements in the Road Traffic Act 1991.”

By 1999 answers wereall focused on the police and ‘obstruction’ and also on that gentle request in the Highway Code that drivers ‘should not’ park on the pavement: To quote: “the Highway Code (Rule 218) makes it clear that motorists should not park on the footway or pavement as it can seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, the visually impaired and people with prams and pushchairs. Enforcement is a matter for the police under the law relating to obstruction.”

The 2001 Parliamentary Select Committtee report on ‘Walking in Towns’ recommended: “extending the ban on pavement parking to towns and cities outside London and ensuring that it is enforced”. (The government response is not easily available on the web but they evidently rejected this advice – see December 2002 response below).

October 2002: “Enforcement of criminal parking offences is an operational matter for the police. The Road Traffic Act 1991 provided for the decriminalisation of most non-endorsable on-street parking offences and their enforcement by local authorities. Normally, where there is an infringement a local authority parking attendant would issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to the transgressor. It is a matter for the local authority to ensure parking attendants are doing their jobs properly. Motorists can appeal to an independent parking adjudicator if they wish to dispute the issue of a PCN.”

December 2002: “We are not in favour of a national ban on pavement parking for the reasons given in our response to recommendation [e viii] of the Walking in Towns and Cities report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee (Cm 5277). Parking on pavements and verges is a problem that should be tackled at local level using traffic regulation orders.”

In December 2010 Norman Baker (then in opposition) asked and got this response: “Local authorities outside London already have powers to prohibit parking on the footway where they consider this to be a problem, using Traffic Regulation Orders and appropriate traffic signs. They are also able to use physical measures such as high kerbs or bollards, which are self-enforcing and effective. There are no powers in primary legislation for the Secretary of State to make regulations that would enable local authorities to ban parking on the footway without a Traffic Regulation Order.”

In February 2011 Norman Baker (now a minister) claimed that there would be a: “nationwide blitz on motorists who selfishly force pushchair mums into the road” after it gave councils in England permission to use signs to indicate a local pavement parking ban. (only a few councils had announced plans for schemes in very small areas by August 2011 – hardly a blitz!).


History appears to be repeating itself, but this time with regard to parking in mandatory cycle lanes (being a lane in the carriageways for cycling marked by a solid white line, and not to be confused with a shared use footway, or cycle track, which is not on the carriageway) ….

The Traffic Management Act 2004 (schedule 7 part 1 4(2)h) included a ban on parking in cycle lanes.

Since the Act received Royal Assent the section relating to the parking ban has not been enabled, meaning that it can’t be enforced. In March 2010 Lord Adonis said: “The Department for Transport is currently liaising with the Local Government Association to seek its views on the priority that its members outside London give to the introduction of the moving traffic contraventions provisions under part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. A decision on the timing of implementation of these provisions will be made when these views are clear to the department.”

In 2013 the clause had evidently still not been enabled, according to the CTC who said: “However, DfT has yet to implement powers in the Traffic Management Act 2004 to enable local authorities to enforce parking in mandatory cycle lanes.”.

Judging by the fate of the 1974 Act I think cyclists are going to be in for a very long wait!

Avon and Somerset Police: policies, strategies and powers

23 May

Avon and Somerset police have just responded to a fine freedom of information request about their policies, instructions, strategies and powers in relation to pavement parking in Bristol (and in particular within the BS7 and BS8 postcodes). Their response is more informative by what it omits than for what it says.

Here is my summary of the questions and their answers. Refer to the FOI request for exactly what the questions were and the responses.:

Q: Details of any parking enforcement policy (or part of any policy), strategy or instruction (informal or informal) provided to officers/staff.
A: They have no particular policies, strategies or formal/informal advice and officers are expected to use their discretion taking all the circumstances into account at the time.  I know that the police in my area are hazy about all the complex and ever changing legislation even thought they have a leaflet (which is incomplete and contains errors). Judging by the rest of their response Avon and Somerset Police are also ‘hazy’ on the legislation and on at least one occasion they have concluded that parking completely across the pavement on a blind residential street is not obstruction. Also… of course there will always be informal advice/practice on  an inflammatory issue as parking where there is an absence of formal guidance.

Q: Your organisation’s responsibility and powers in relation to enforcement against pavement parking.
A: To act where they have powers, but not in response to yellow lines etc as responsibility for these has been transferred to the council. See below for details of the list of powers they identify and the apparent gaps in their knowledge.

Q: Have you undertaken an Equalities Impact Assessment in relation to the above?
A. No response provided.

In detailing their powers in relation to pavement parking they identify the following (all of which are valid as far as I know):

  • Highways Act 1980 (section 137.1) Wilful obstruction of a highway by a motor vehicle £30 non endorsable)
  • Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations 1986 (regulation 103) Cause unnecessary obstruction by motor vehicle /trailer £30 non endorsable
  • Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (section 52) Powers to issue a fixed penalty notice
  • Road Traffic Act 1988 (section 19.1) Park an HGV partly/wholly on a footway/verge £60 non endorsable
  • Road Traffic Act 1988 (section 22) Cause vehicle to be left in a dangerous position. £60 endorsable
  • Road Traffic Act 1988 (34.1b) Drive vehicle on a footpath/bridleway etc. non endorsable. £30 offence
  • Road Traffic Act 1988 (section 42) Cause unnecessary obstruction by motor vehicle /trailer £30 non endorsable
  • Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (schedule 2) Cause unnecessary obstruction by motor vehicle /trailer £30 offence

They do, however, fail to mention the following additional powers which I believe are relevant:

  • Highways Act 1980 ( Section 148 and Section 149) it is an offense if ‘a person deposits any thing whatsoever on a highway to the interruption of any user of the highway without lawful authority or excuse‘
  • Road Traffic Act 1988 Act (Section 21). An immediate offense to park ‘wholly or partly’ on a share-use path
  • Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossings Regulations and General Directions 1997 (Section 18 and schedule 4). Pedestrian crossing (including the area marked by the zig-zag lines. Enforceable by police even in civil enforcement areas (The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007 – Section 7.1).
  • Traffic Management Act 2004 (section 86). Dropped kerbs for pedestrians to cross road (including places where the carriageway has been raised to meet the level of the pavement).
  • Highway Code (rule 238) prohibition of parking, waiting, stopping or setting down/picking up on School zone (identified by the yellow zig-zag lines).

Breaking news – new powers for councils to tackle pavement parking?

21 Feb

No pavement parking signage (as published in The Sun)

The Sun has reported in today’s paper that the Transport Minister Norman Baker is about to announce a ‘nationwide blitz on motorists who selfishly force pushchair mums into the road’.

He will evidently be writing to all council chiefs today to inform them of their new powers which allow them to create traffic regulation orders covering local pavement parking blackspots. After installing warning signs they will be able to fine those who park on or partly on the pavement £70. More details will no doubty follow soon.

I have selected a range of supportive and opposing comments from The Sun’s website which I have reproduced verbatim. Clearly there is considerable support for getting cars off pavements and also a vocal group of more ‘extreme motorists’ who will fight this tooth and nail.


  • I am in a wheelchair and live on a road used by drivers to park like that for the day and buddy up to go into town. There are no dropped curbs near these idiots so I often have to travel several hundred yards on the road which is a major bus route
  • Good. I am sick and tired of having to squeeze past cars parked like that. Trouble is though will there be anyone to give out the fines? Secondly will anyone of the selfish drivers pay? I doubt it.
  • Get a fleet of tow trucks and haul their cars away for a week that will make them think twice about being so inconsiderate.
  • We in Basingstoke, have a second hand car dealer, right on a set of busy traffic lights, he has NO customer parking, so they park on the pavement, which not only makes people have to walk in the road, but causes mayhem at peak times, so I welcome these rules.
  • Parking on the pavement is NEVER an option.  Indeed, being allowed to park on the road at all is a privilege.  There was a 17th century High Court judge who ruled that “the highway shall not be used as a stable”.  That ruling is still in force today.
  • I think its a good idea, though it does point out its not a blanket ban as sometimes people need to park that way, and don’t block pavements. As a mother I’m sick of having to go round cars selfishly parked on the path. It’s not right.
  • Some of you need to remember, pavements are for people, not cars. That’s what roads are for, so good on him for finally doing something.
  • About time too. There are no acceptable excuses for parking on pavements. If the road is too narrow to allow other vehicles to pass with vehicles parked on a pavement, that is an indication that vehicles should not be parked in that road not that vehicles should be parked on the pavement. Why do motorists consider pedestrians to be second class citizens? The rights of a pedestrian to walk along a pavement are just as important as the right of a motorist to drive along a road.


  • traffic waldon’s are filth
  • Wahay. Another way to rip off motorists. Can I set up a direct debit to have all my motoring fines each month paid straight to the exchequor?
  • Are they gonna widen the roads then? the only reason to park on the pavement like that is because the road is too narrow to park on normally, without risk of having your car side swiped. how does this also “force” buggy pushing mothers into the road?
  • This is just another of what will be an ever increasing methods the government will use to extract money from us the hard working public. The at the same time after taking massive taxes and spurious fines then have the cheek to tell us that we need.
  • I’d rather force a mother into the road, where she can stop, look, listen and navigate carefully than park my car obstructively in the road.
  • Will they make extra spaces in places where they have to enforce such rulings? like hell they will, they’ll just coin it in whenever someone gets sick of the inconvenience of parking half a mile down the road
  • I don’t even know where to begin with this, this is open to so much abuse it is ridiculous.  Wide vehicles regularly MUST park partially on the pavement to prevent endangering motorists on narrow roads, or even blocking them completely.


Today’s government press release on the subject.

“The Department for Transport has given all councils in England permission to use signs to indicate a local pavement parking ban. Until now councils have had to gain special signs authorisation from Government each time they want to put a pavement parking ban in place.

In the press release Norman Baker clearly states that the regulations are aimed at a ‘selfish minority’ who ‘dump their cars wherever it suits them without a second thought for others’. Good stuff!

Freedom, what freedom and for whom?

15 Nov

A DirectGov press release in August 2010 says.”Wheel clamping on private land is to be banned in England and Wales. The ban, which will be introduced in the new ‘Freedom Bill‘ in November, will impose tough penalties on anyone who clamps a vehicle or tows it away on private land”

Freedom for whom one has to ask. Freedom for the car driver to trespass, park and then drive away with confidence that they can ignore any signs saying ‘private’, ‘keep out’ and ‘no parking please’ with no more concern that they generally exhibit when parking on a verge, pavement, bus stop or anywhere else on the highway?

Needless to say the ‘motoring organisations’ have been pushing for this for some time. The RAC Foundation said that wheel-clamping was a breach of human-rights legislation because the concept of “one citizen “punishing” another is alien in English law”. The RAC Foundation’s did however say acknowledge  “We recognise the right of a landowner to enjoy his property without unauthorised obstruction.” The AA said that “bad and immoral practices” among private parking firms in England and Wales was “shocking and unacceptable”. Also that “The public have absolutely no protection if a private parking firm acts unfairly – it is a civil matter and no-one is interested in helping”. Finally in a flourish of brilliance that “Many elderly and vulnerable people have been ripped off by these callous cowboys.”

Lynne Featherston, the Home Office minister said that some firms were operating a “sort of entrapment” and an outright ban was the right answer and that “Most police forces do not spend their time prosecuting clamping companies”. The minister did however acknowledge on her blog that the police will not be able to cope, saying that “Cars that are parked dangerously on private land  – for example – blocking the entrance to a hospital or such like will be towed by the police. However, the police powers are for exceptional circumstances only”.

The British Parking Association acknowledged that reform was needed but that “If clamping is banned the Government must describe how it would protect landowners’ interests where vehicles are parked unlawfully on their land”. Matt Roberts, manager of Worcester Ten Pin Bowling who said that he was sceptical about the Government’s plans and was worried about parking becoming a “free for all” – “What alternatives are there to protect the car parking spaces that we pay for? I don’t like the idea of wheel clamping, if there is another way then I’ll do it”.

Which? magazine conducted a poll on their website which was split with a slight majority favouring the ban. The magazine was responding to readers concerns both about disabled people being frog-marched to cash-machines and those of land owners. A BBC ‘Have your say’ article attracted over 800 comments with the normal range of extreme views.

Now, I certainly believe that many clamping companies have indeed being run a racket charging exorbitant fees to release vehicles and that something should be done. Is not the real problem that drivers have got so used to breaking parking regulations in some many places and they find it a rude shock to actually get a ticket when parking on private property when they have been getting away for it for years on pavements, outside schools and on verges? We reported some time ago about the illegal parker who appealed successfully against prosecution on the grounds that he had done it many times before and never been challenged.

The huge opportunity now seems to be that we suddenly have business owners and even the ‘British Parking Association’ on our side. Every small business which owns and pays for a few parking places outside their property is going to need protection. Our challenge is to ensure that the action that protects their rights also protects the rights of the  “elderly and vulnerable people” (to quote the AA again) who wish to use the pavement and indeed the rest of us who have seen our rights and freedom trampled on for years.

The said Freedom bill, or “Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill” as it was described by the Queen in the Queen’s speech is very broad rangeing. It will cover many important concerns. For example:  ‘Restoring freedoms and civil liberties’, ‘Allowing members of the public to protest peacefully without fear of being criminalised’, ‘reform of libel laws to protect freedom of speech’, ‘protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury’, ‘restoration of rights to non-violent protest’, ‘Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation’, ‘repeal of unnecessary criminal offences’, ‘introducing new legislation to restrict the scope of the DNA database’, ‘Protecting privacy by introducing new legislation to regulate the use of CCTV’ and ‘Ensuring the storage of internet and email records is only done when there is good reason to do so’.

Let’s see if the bill can get them to acknowledge and deal with the whole parking mess across both public and private land. It is now predicted that the bill will be published in ‘the spring’.

Has parking in shared use footways been illegal since 1988?

15 Oct

When I was recently reading the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as one does), I noticed this interesting clause that makes it illegal to park on ‘cycle track’s, which incidentally includes shared use pavements. To quote:  “any person who, without lawful authority, drives or parks a motor vehicle wholly or partly on a cycle track is guilty of an offence” S:21). Their definition of a cycle track is any track that allows cycling and also a shared pedestrian/cycle route, but not one that allows any motorised vehicles.

I have marked the key elements in bold because for normal footways it if only illegal to ‘drive’ on them, not to be parked on one. The above appears to make it much easier to give someone a ticket for parking on a shared-use path for parking on a normal footway. At least one doesn’t have to worry about bicycles and parked cars!

This appears to mean that the police already have the powers to fine drivers for parking on share-use paths. I am a little cautious about my interpretation because no one seems to have picked up on this yet. My friendly local policeman was certainly unaware of the ruling, Living Streets don’t mention it in their guidance on combating pavement parking and nor to the cycle campaign groups. but is going to check and get back to me. If I am right then the following drivers are already committing an offense:

Car parked on a shared-use footway

Car parked on a shared-use footway


I have just been reading a useful post which defines the legal terms used for parts of the highway. It includes definitions of Cycle Track, Cycle Lane, Footpath and Footway and gives me more confidence that I am right.

They say that a Cycle track is ‘a route other than within the carriageway (e.g. on a footway adjacent to a carriageway, adjacent to a carriageway but separate from it and the footway, or a route completely separate from a highway – and which could be “permissive” or be a “right of way”). They quote the legal definition as being “a way constituting or comprised in a highway, being a way over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way, that is to say, a right of way on pedal cycles (other than pedal cycles which are motor vehicles within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1972) with or without a right of way on foot [Section 329(1) Highways Act 1980]. The words in brackets were inserted by section 1 of the Cycle Tracks Act 1984.

And.. I have also noticed that the Highway Code – Rule 240 confirms it. It says you MUST NOT stop or park on … a cycle track.

A forum run for police specials seems to agree and suggests that the appropriate fine would be £30-£80.

Another update:

There seems to be some difference of opinion within the cycling world as to whether a Cycle Track can be along a pavement or whether they really more like footpaths and bridleways (ie routes not beside the highway). I have queries out with various organisations as to their interpretations of the law. I will keep you posted.

New rules protect dropped kerbs

15 Oct

The Traffic Management Act 2004 (section 86) introduced to protect dropped kerbs from parked cars. It also covers places where the carriageway has been raised to meet the level of the footway for the same purpose.

To quote my local authority ‘ If an enforcement officer observes a vehicle parked fully or partly on a dropped footway provided for ease of access to cross a road or at a pedestrian crossing the motorist will receive an automatic penalty charge notice.’ This change means that it will finally be an offense for which a vehicle owner can be given a penalty notice to do this:

A Prius parked across a dropped Kerb is now always an offence

Again, this is now an offense (ie parking across a dropped kerb)

Car parked on dropped kerb

Conveniently for motorists the same regulatory change appears to allow home-owners to ‘claim’ the highway outside their house for their own private us! Our authority explains ‘If you find an inconsiderate motorist blocking the dropped kerb access to your home you can get in touch with Ipswich Borough Council’s Parking Service and action will be taken’.

Notice that it is only the owner of the property who can complain in this instance. This of course means that anyone who replaces their front garden with a parking place and a dopped-kerb now gets two protected spaces for the price of one. The first being in their (ex) front garden, the second right outside their house on the highway. I have created a separate post about why the car on the pavement is not currently causing an obstruction. Which all means that we can probably expect a lot more of this:

Dropped kerb creating parking for 2 cars

Finally… this car is not covered by the 2004 Regulation because it is not on the carriageway and my authorities would probably consider that it was not current obstructing anyone!

Probably not an offense!

In the above photo notice, yet again, a roadways sign that is obstructing the pavement. See my post about obstruction warning signs that cause an obstruction!