Government opens public consultation into the banning of pavement parking in England

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The UK government has today opened a public consultation into the potential banning of pavement parking in England.

The Department of Transport (DfT)’s consultation on whether “a change of existing pavement parking legislation should occur” could see the practice of pavement parking either banned nationwide, or see local councils awarded more power to tackle the issue.

It’s said to be all part of the government’s plans to make walking easier for disabled people and parents pushing prams.

The practice is currently only banned in London – where fines range from £80 to £130, depending on the seriousness of the offence – but elsewhere in the country, it is only prohibited for lorries.

According to the gov.uk website, this consultation is proposing three options:

  1. Improving the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking.
  2. A legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’.
  3. A legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England.

It comes after recent research by blind and visual impairment charity Guide Dogs indicated that 32% of people with visual impairments and 48% of wheelchair users are less keen to go out on their own because of antisocial pavement parking.

IPTC / Ronald Hudson

The DfT stated that any measures will need to “ensure the free-flow of traffic and access for the emergency services”.

Grant Shapps – Secretary of State for Transport – added: “Parking on pavements means wheelchair users, visually impaired people and parents with pushchairs can be forced into the road, which is not only dangerous but discourages people from making journeys.

“A key part of our green, post-COVID recovery will be encouraging more people to choose active travel, such as walking, so it is vital that we make the nation’s pavements accessible for everyone. Pavement parking presents a clear safety risk when parked cars occupy the pavement and force vulnerable pedestrians to move into the road.”

Witnesses told MPs that some of the worst cases of pavement parking were effectively trapping disabled, elderly and vulnerable people, making them “afraid to leave their homes”, and a rise in detrimental pavement parking also appears to have been reported over the past few months of lockdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Stephen Edwards – Director of Policy and Communications at walking charity Living Streets – said: “We’re regularly contacted by disabled and older people who feel trapped in their homes because there isn’t enough room on the pavement for wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

“This has impacted more people during the pandemic, with blocked pavements affecting everyone’s ability to physically distance.”

Justine Roberts – Founder and Chief Executive of Mumsnet – added: “Lots of us have occasionally parked a couple of wheels up on the pavement to leave space on the road without really thinking about how it might inconvenience people.

“It’s a topic that comes up regularly on Mumsnet, where wheelchair users and people with buggies share stories about being forced into the road, or having to double back long distances.”

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On the flip side, the AA has warned that a ban would have “unintended consequences”.

Jack Cousens – Head of Roads Policy at AA – said: “As we have seen over the past few weeks with road closures and narrowed roads, councils have acted with little consultation and in many cases lost confidence of the communities they serve.

“Local authorities should make a street-by-street assessment and where pavement parking is allowed, markings should show how much pavement can be used. While councils have always had the powers to tackle problem parking, it would be typical if the only time they act is when there is fines income to be had from it.”

To have your say in the Managing Pavement Parking consultation, you can do so via the gov.uk website here.

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