Ministers stall on pavement parking, despite pledge

12/02/2024
Chris Ames

The Department for Transport (DfT) has refused to say when it will make a decision on giving councils the power to ban pavement parking, amid criticism that it has ‘sat on’ the issue for over three years.

In England, pavement parking is only banned in London, where councils have powers to exempt certain roads, but a new report published by the Local Government Association (LGA) said powers need to be extended ‘to save lives and make our streets safer’.

In Scotland, some councils have started to enforce a ban, while a consultation is also set to take place in Wales on introducing restrictions.

The Government held a consultation, which ended in November 2020, on extending powers in England but an announcement has yet to be made.

In October, the then roads minister, Richard Holden, told local authority traffic managers: ‘I promise, I really do, that there will be an answer soon.’

Transport Network asked the DfT when the consultation outcome would be published and why it has been held up but it declined to say.

A spokesperson said: 'While local authorities already have powers to prohibit pavement parking through local regulation, we have consulted on further helping them take action.’

The LGA report, produced by Sustrans and Transport for All, details the barriers faced by people using the footway and challenges for councils in making them accessible. These include the lack of space commonly caused by pavement parking, poor surface quality, trip hazards and not enough places to cross the road safely.

Although councils can take action in specific cases through traffic regulation orders, the report highlighted ‘bureaucratic hurdles’ in doing this.

LGA transport spokesperson Cllr Darren Rodwell said: ‘Pavement parking is one of the biggest complaints from pedestrians, but three years on, councils outside of London still do not have the powers they need to tackle this scourge.’

Chris Theobald, senior policy and campaigns manger at Guide Dogs said: 'The Department for Transport has sat on over 15,000 responses to their consultation for over three years.’

He added: ‘Anti-social parking on pavements is unsafe and unfair and the law urgently needs to be changed to address this. People with sight loss rely on clear pavements to get out and about safely.

‘The fear of having to step into the road onto oncoming traffic to get around a car blocking the way, deters many people from going out independently.’ 

The RAC’s head of policy, Simon Williams, said: ‘Rather than an outright ban, we think it would be more effective if local authorities were given enforcement powers to prevent unnecessary pavement obstructions.

‘This prevents the need for them having to survey all their roads to work out where exemptions need to be made, then spend money putting up signs and painting new markings.’

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