There are certain topics which may seem on the face of it more ‘mundane’ but always cause passions to run high, and one of those is undoubtedly the issue of car parking restrictions.
This is not unique to the ward I represent (either the villages or the urban areas), but is a national issue.
Although I have only been a councillor for just over a year I have noted that this issue of parking restrictions has been brought up multiple times by most of the parish councils and communities I represent.
Whenever the question of yellow lines or pavement parking has been brought up in Parish Council meetings there is generally a long and difficult discussion.
Questions have been raised about adding lines, removing them, how to enforce against drivers ignoring yellow lines or parking on pavements, or indeed in certain instances the colour of the double lines to fit in with the character of a valued conservation area.
Where restrictions are being proposed the Borough Council has to hold a consultation under the TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) process and there is generally a high number of responses with arguments put strongly for and against.
This is why I am sure it will be of interest to residents that the Government has recently announced that it is holding a consultation on the especially thorny issue of pavement parking, or more technically ‘footway’ parking.
I say footway as this is the legal term, but also in some villages there is only a white line to designate ‘pavement’ there is no physical difference between the designated footway and the road and this can confuse both pedestrians and drivers.
This is particularly a concern for communities with narrow pavements, like many of the villages I represent, or in newer communities where there are far more cars than parking spaces.
In many of the villages there are very narrow paths which were not designed with prams and wheelchairs in mind, let alone car parking.
The Government’s rationale for this consultation is that for those who have a disability in particular there is an inequality of access to transport and pavement parking ‘can cause real problems for pedestrians but particularly for wheelchair uses, people with visual impairments and those with prams or buggies’.
On the other hand, the consultation also recognises that in narrow roads, without pavement parking it would not be possible to park and allow free flowing traffic, crucially for emergency services.
Whilst in London pavement parking has been banned since 1974, the debate over pavement parking has continued across the rest of the country.
The Government states that it wants to seek the public’s opinion on how to address the issue at a local authority level for those outside London.
Some readers may remember that this was talked about last year, and the Department for Transport published its Transport Committee’s 2019 report on pavement parking (published 12 March 2020).
The consultation proposes a number of options:
· First, amending the status quo through the DfT’s its ongoing work (Option 1) to improve the TRO process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking, and whether this is sufficient and proportionate to tackle pavement parking where it is a problem;
Alternatively adopting one of these two options
· legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement (CPE) powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’ (Option 2), or:
· legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England (Option 3).
Or third, any alternative proposals that you may have for managing pavement parking (and I assume that these need to be polite!)
The Consultation is running until 22 November 2020 so there is plenty of time to consider your options and have your say on what I know is a very contentious issue.
For more details, and a history of the law on the matter, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking/pavement-parking-options-for-change
by Cllr Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant
Great Barford Ward (comprising Cardington, Cople, Great Barford, Ravensden, Renhold -including Cranbourne Gardens, Willington and Woodlands Park -part of Brickhill Parish)
Tel: 07934 853 907