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Session 2003 - 04
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Traffic Management Bill


These notes refer to the Traffic Management Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 11 December 2003[Bill 13]




1.     These Explanatory Notes relate to the Traffic Management Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 11 December. They have been prepared by the Department for Transport in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.


3.     The Bill's provisions extend to England and Wales.

[Bill 13—EN]     53/3


4.     The Bill is in seven Parts.

Part 1

Traffic Officers

5.     The Bill empowers the Secretary of State for Transport, in his capacity as highway and traffic authority for the strategic road network in England (i.e. most motorways and all other trunk roads), to establish a uniformed on-road traffic officer service to manage the traffic consequences of random incidents (such as break downs, obstructions, debris and accidents) and manage programmed highway events such as the passage of abnormal loads. In practice the Secretary of State carries out his functions as highway and traffic authority through the Highways Agency, which is an executive agency of the Department for Transport, and the Highways Agency would be implementing this part of the Bill on his behalf.

6.     The Bill also empowers the National Assembly for Wales, in their capacity as highway and traffic authority for the strategic road network in Wales, to so establish a traffic officer service in Wales.

7.     The Bill enables some traffic management functions on motorways and other trunk roads currently carried out by the police to be carried out by traffic officers. The Bill would give traffic officers powers to stop and direct traffic, and place and operate traffic signs to deal with incidents and keep traffic moving.

Part 2

Network management by local traffic authorities

8.     The Bill imposes a duty on all local traffic authorities to secure the expeditious movement of traffic on their road networks, and to facilitate the expeditious movement of traffic on other authorities' networks. Authorities are required to make arrangements as they consider appropriate for planning and carrying out the action to be taken in performing the duty; part of the arrangements must be the appointment of a "Traffic Manager".

9.     If an authority is failing properly to perform its network management duty, or to make appropriate arrangements, then the Bill provides for the national authority (being the Secretary of State for Transport in England, and the National Assembly for Wales in Wales) to appoint a traffic director for that authority. The national authority must, among other things, set out the objectives of the traffic director.

Part 3

Permit schemes

10.     The Bill provides for the introduction of permit schemes by order of the Secretary of State, in England, and the National Assembly for Wales, in Wales. A permit scheme would control specified works in the street in a particular area and would require a permit to be obtained for such works. The Bill provides that permit schemes could extend to works such as road works and street works, and could extend to corresponding works. A permit scheme may provide for conditions to be attached to permits which would apply in relation to the carrying out of specified works.

Part 4

Street Works

11.     This Bill provides for changes to the regulatory regime for utility companies' street works.

12.     The Bill also provides for increases in levels of fines of specified offences, and provides for highway authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for certain offences.

Part 5

Highways and Roads

13.     The Bill includes specific measures that alter the arrangements for traffic management in London. These include provisions for the Secretary of State for Transport to initially to designate a network of strategic roads (and for changes to that network to be made by the Assembly or the Mayor of London acting on its behalf). The purpose of designating this network is to enhance Transport for London's (TfL's) powers in relation to Borough roads by enabling it to object to proposals that would affect strategic roads.

14.     The Bill also amends the Highways Act 1980, most notably to provide for regulations to apply 'lane rental' charges to skips, scaffolding, building materials and temporary excavations that occupy the highway.

Part 6

Civil enforcement of traffic contraventions

15.     The Bill includes powers providing a single framework to make regulations for the civil enforcement by local authorities of parking and waiting restrictions, bus lanes and some moving traffic offences. These regulations will replace existing powers in national and London local legislation. It will enable regulations to be made giving authorities outside London civil enforcement powers to cover some moving traffic offences (such as ignoring the rules at box junctions and banned turns) using camera evidence, and additional powers in respect of parking enforcement which already exist in London.

16.     The Bill also gives the relevant national authority a reserve power to direct a local authority outside London to apply for civil parking enforcement powers the objective being to release police resources used for this purpose.

Part 7

Miscellaneous and general

17.     The Bill includes general and miscellaneous provision, including provision for the application of surplus income from parking places, and for the establishment of traffic officers.


Part 1: Traffic Officers


18.     The Government has charged the Highways Agency with developing its role as strategic road network operator. In pursuance of this the Agency has undertaken, in partnership with the Association of Chief Police Officers a review of the roles and responsibilities of both the police and the Highways Agency for traffic management on the network. The review concluded that responsibility for a number of tasks associated with traffic management should transfer from the police to the Highways Agency. It recommended that the Highways Agency assume a greater traffic management role and establish:-

  • Traffic Officers: On-road officers who would have the powers to stop and direct traffic, and whose main role would be to support road users and keep traffic flowing by implementing traffic management measures.

  • Regional Control Centres: Control offices around the network, to be staffed by both the Highways Agency and police, which would monitor and manage traffic on the network and direct on-road resources.

  • On 20th June 2003 the Secretary of State for Transport made a statement to the House of Commons setting out his policy for future management of the network. The statement indicated that the Government has endorsed the review and that the Agency would be working with the police and others to implement its recommendations.

19.     The Secretary of State has the legal power to establish and operate regional control centres, but primary legislation is required in order to establish traffic officers with traffic management powers.

Clauses 1 & 2: Designation of traffic officers

20.     These clauses empower respectively the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales ("the appropriate national authority") to designate individuals to act as traffic officers or to authorise another to do so. Traffic officers would thus either be employed directly by the respective authority or they would be employed by external service providers. During the early years of operating a traffic officer service in England it is expected that all traffic officers will be designated by the Secretary of State and will be employees of the Highways Agency. In the longer term there is the option to employ contractors to provide the traffic officers.

21.     Traffic officers' duties will be related to the management of traffic on roads for which the appropriate national authority is the traffic authority or the performance of any of the authorities' other functions as highway or traffic authority for trunk roads. Thus for example, in addition to traffic management they would be able to carry out incidental or supportive tasks such as monitoring the condition of the road and reporting on any defects or problems.

Clause 3: Jurisdiction of traffic officers

22.     Clause 3 defines the roads over which traffic officers can carry out their duties. These are likely to be all roads for which the national authority is the traffic authority within the relevant national boundary. However, the clause provides that their jurisdiction may be limited to specific roads. This might be used where traffic officers are designated by service providers who have a contract to provide a traffic service for a specific area.

Clause 4: Powers to direct traffic officers

23.     Traffic officers would be directed by or on behalf of the appropriate national authority. However, to prevent any potential conflict between their role on the ground and that of the police in dealing with traffic accidents or incidents this clause empowers the police to exercise primacy. In practice, this means that the police may opt to deal with incidents themselves, with or without traffic officer support, or allow traffic officers to act without police involvement. This clause also provides that where traffic officers are contracted out, the appropriate national authority may still give them direct instructions.

Clause 5: The special powers of a traffic officer

24.     Clause 5 sets out restrictions and limitations on the exercise of traffic officers' constabulary-type powers, referred to as "special powers". Those special powers are the power to stop and direct traffic, power to place temporary traffic signs, and any other constabulary-type power which they may be given by legislation.

25.     These powers may only be used to assist traffic movement, avoid danger to persons or traffic or prevent damage to the road or anything on or near the road or for incidental purposes.

26.     Traffic officers may use their special powers on roads within their jurisdiction. They may also use their powers on any other roads in England and Wales provided they are acting under the direction of the police for the area in which the road is situated or with the consent of the traffic authority for the road.

27.      In practice, this means, for example, that although traffic officers' jurisdiction is on the national authority's roads, where an accident on such a road results in significant impact on traffic elsewhere, or where advance warnings need to be in place quickly on approach roads to warn traffic of problems on the national authority's road, traffic officers might be asked to operate temporarily on a local road at the direction of the police, or with agreement of the local highway authority. It is anticipated that operating protocols will be agreed in advance with the local highway authorities and police. A similar approach applies at the border between England and Wales.

Clause 6: Powers to stop or direct traffic

28.     Clause 6 gives a traffic officer similar powers to those held by the police under the Road Traffic Act 1988 ("RTA") to require vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to stop and to require vehicles to proceed in a particular direction.

29.     The section 35 RTA offences (failure of drivers or cyclists to stop or proceed as directed) would carry a maximum fine of level 3 on the standard scale (£1000) and in certain cases endorsement and possibly disqualification. The offences are also fixed penalty offences carrying fines of up to £60.

30.     The section 37 RTA offence (failure of pedestrians to stop when directed) would carry a maximum fine of level 3 on the standard scale (£1000).

31.     The section 163 RTA offence (failure of drivers or cyclists to stop when directed) would carry a maximum fine of level 3 on the standard scale (£1000) The offence is also a fixed penalty offence carrying a fine of £30.

Clause 7: Powers to place temporary traffic signs

32.     Clause 7 gives a traffic officer a similar power to a police constable to place and maintain traffic signs on the highway The signs may be used to indicate prohibitions, restrictions or requirements relating to traffic to deal with congestion or obstruction of traffic or danger to or from traffic. Such signage may be placed for a period of up to seven days.

33.     The effect of subsection (2) is that section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 applies to any traffic signs so placed by traffic officers. Section 36 makes it an offence not to comply with traffic signs to which it applies.

34.     Breach of section 36 carries a maximum fine of level 3 on the standard scale (£1000). In addition, for breach of certain signs (e.g. stop signs) endorsement is obligatory and disqualification is discretionary. Breach is also a fixed penalty offence with fines of up to £60.

Clause 8: Power to confer further special powers on traffic officers

35.     Clause 8 makes provision for the appropriate national authority to confer further special powers on traffic officers by statutory instrument.

Clause 9: Removal of certain vehicles by traffic officers

36.     This clause modifies the Secretary of State's power under section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to make regulations providing for the removal of vehicles obstructing the highway, or abandoned or broken down or dangerously or illegally parked such as to empower traffic officers to deal with them.

37.     The modifications will enable the Secretary of State, by statutory instrument, both to empower traffic officers to remove such vehicles and also to make provision for the disposal of any such vehicles so removed by them and the recovery of the costs of so doing.

Clause 10: Offences

38.     Clause 10 makes it an offence to assault, wilfully obstruct, or impersonate a traffic officer or fail to give a name and address to a traffic officer when lawfully demanded (as to which see subsections (4) and (5)). The penalties for these offences vary with the offence and are set out in the clause. This provides for penalties of fines not exceeding respectively level 5 (£5000) or level 3 (£1000) on the standard scale and also for imprisonment.

Clause 11: Uniform

39.     This relates back to subsection (6) of clause 5.

Clause 13: Power to acquire land

40.     Clause 13 gives the appropriate national authority the power to acquire land, if necessary, for the traffic officer service or for other purposes connected with the management of traffic such as for the provision of traffic control centres. Such land may be bought by agreement or compulsorily.

Clause 14: Financial assistance to authorised persons

41.     Clause 14 provides a power to provide financial assistance to authorised persons in respect of traffic officers designated by them.

Part 2: Network Management by Local Traffic Authorities

Clauses 16: The network management duty

42.     Clause 16 places a duty on every local traffic authority to manage its road network to secure the expeditious movement of traffic on their road network, and to work with other authorities to facilitate traffic movement on their road network. The action an authority may take includes the exercise of any powers affecting the use of the network, whether or not those powers were conferred on the authority in their capacity as a traffic authority.

Clause 17: Arrangements for network management

43.     Clause 17 requires authorities to make arrangements to carry out their network management duty under Clause 16. The arrangements must, among other things, include the appointment of a "Traffic Manager".

Clauses 18 & 19: Guidance and power to require information

44.     Clauses 18 & 19 provide for the Secretary of State in England, or the National Assembly for Wales, to issue guidance to authorities about the techniques of network management or other matters relating to the exercise of their network management duties and to obtain information from authorities connected with the performance of those duties.

Clause 20: Intervention Notices

45.     Clause 20 provides power for the Secretary of State (in England) and National Assembly (in Wales) to serve an intervention notice on a local traffic authority. Subsection (3) requires the authority to provide any information requested in the notice. Subsection (2) (b) provides the authority with an opportunity to make representations. Subsection (5) provides for the Secretary of State to consult the Mayor prior to any notice in respect of a London authority, and if it is given, provide him with a copy of the notice.

Clauses 21: Intervention Orders

46.     Clause 21 provides for an Intervention Order in connection with the appointment of a "Traffic Director" to an authority by the Secretary of State or National Assembly, as appropriate, in the event of the national authority being satisfied that the authority is failing to perform any of its network management duties or duties under clause 17. Under subsection (3) the Order must set out the grounds for the appointment and the traffic director's objectives.

47.     A Traffic Director may be given powers which are described in general terms in subsection (5). Subsection (7) enables the scope of those powers, as well as when and how such powers may be exercised, to be limited.

48.     Subsection (8) defines the scope of the ancillary powers which may be conferred on the Traffic Director, which include a requirement for the local traffic authority to provide him with information and assistance. Subsection (9) provides for the amendment of the intervention order setting out the powers of the Traffic Director, after he has been appointed, but only after consultation with the local authority. Subsection (10) provides that the Secretary of State shall consult the Mayor prior to any intervention order in respect of a London authority.

Clause 23: Monitoring and Reporting

49.     Clause 23 provides for a power for the Intervention Order to confer on the Traffic Director a power to monitor the performance of the local authority and a power for the order to authorise the Traffic Director to make reports to the local authority and/or Secretary of State (in England) or the National Assembly (in Wales).

Clause 24: Intervention in activities of local traffic authority

50.     Clause 24 provides for the powers that an Intervention Order may confer on a Traffic Director to direct a local authority to take (or not take) certain actions.

Clause 25: Exercise of local traffic authority functions

51.     Clause 25 provides that, where provided by an Intervention Order, a Traffic Director may exercise specified functions in place of the authority.

Clause 26: Application of Clauses 20 to 25 to Local Traffic Authorities exercising functions jointly

52.     Authorities may exercise jointly a function which is relevant to achieving their duties under Clauses 16 and 17. Subsection (1) enables the Secretary of State or National Assembly, by Order, to make modifications to the intervention process in Clauses 20 to 25 to cater for such cases. Subsection (2) provides that such an Order shall be subject to negative resolution in either House of Parliament.

Clauses 27 & 28: Criteria for making Intervention Orders and Guidance to Traffic Directors

53.     Clause 27 requires the Secretary of State or National Assembly to publish guidance about the criteria which it proposes to apply in deciding whether, or when, to intervene under this Part. Clause 28 allows them to issue guidance to Traffic Directors.

Clause 29: Traffic Directors in London

54.     Clause 29 provides for the relationship between the Mayor and a Traffic Director appointed in relation to a London authority, or where a Traffic Director is appointed in relation to Transport for London. Subsection (3) provides that a Traffic Director need not comply with a direction from the Mayor under Part 4 (Transport) of the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

55.     Subsections (6) and (7) provide that where a Traffic Director is appointed in relation to TfL, and exercises the power of TfL to object to a Borough proposal under s. 301A (3) of the Highways Act 1980 or s. 121B(3) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (or directs TfL to exercise this power), the Greater London Authority will not be able to override this objection by giving its consent.

Clause 30: Recovery of costs from local traffic authorities

56.     Clause 30 provides that the Secretary of State or National Assembly, as appropriate, may recover from an authority the expenditure it has incurred in appointing a Traffic Director to that authority (including expenditure towards any costs incurred by the Traffic Director), after allowing for any of the Traffic Director's costs that are met from other sources.

Clause 31: Interpretation of Part 2

57.     Local traffic authorities in England are Transport for London, London Borough Councils, the Common Council of the City of London, County Councils, Metropolitan District Councils and Unitary Councils.

Part 3: Permit schemes

Clause 32: Meaning of "permit scheme"

58.     This clause defines the expression "permit scheme" and indicates the provisions which can be included in a permit scheme. The provisions include:

  • provisions as to the type of works which do and do not require permits and provisions as to cases where works can be carried out without the issue of a permit (for instance in the case of emergencies);

  • provisions as to the conditions which can be attached to the grant of a permit;

  • provisions as to arrangements for reviewing or varying permits that have already been issued.

Clause 33: Preparation of permit schemes

59.     This clause makes provision with respect to the preparation of permit schemes.

60.     Individual local highway authorities (e.g. a county council), or two or more such authorities, may prepare and submit a permit scheme to the relevant national authority. In this Part, the relevant national authority is the Secretary of State in England or National Assembly for Wales.

61.     The relevant national authority may direct an individual highway authority, or two or more such authorities, to prepare and submit to the authority a permit scheme in the form it directs.

62.     In addition, the relevant national authority can prepare a permit scheme. Such a scheme prepared by the Secretary of State could cover streets in the Royal Parks.

Clause 34: Implementation etc of local highway authority permit schemes

63.     Clause 34 provides for the implementation of local highway authority permit schemes. Such a scheme shall not come into effect other than by an order of the relevant national authority. The order must set out the scheme and specify the date on which it starts operation. The order may include provisions which disapply or modify enactments. The clause provides that the relevant national authority may subsequently make a further order varying or revoking a permit scheme which is in force.

Clause 35: Implementation of other permit schemes

64.     This clause makes provision corresponding to clause 34 in relation to permit schemes prepared by the relevant national authority.

Clause 36: Permit regulations

65.     This clause enables the relevant national authority to issue regulations which make provision with respect to the content, preparation, submission, approval, operation, variation or revocation of permit schemes.

66.     Subsection (2) enables the regulations to provide for certain standard provisions to apply in relation to permit schemes.

67.     Subsection (3) enables regulations to make provision in relation to the matters mentioned in clause 33(2), including, for example, provision as to the types of conditions that can be attached to a permit. Subsection (3)(b) enables the regulations to make provision for the purpose of limiting the streets, or range of streets, which may be subject to a permit scheme.

68.     Subsection (4) enables the regulations to make further provision, including:

  • the criteria which scheme operators have to take into account in deciding whether to issue a permit, with or without conditions, or in considering whether to review or vary a permit;

  • conferring a right of appeal;

  • the creation of one or more criminal offences (attracting a maximum fine of £5,000 on summary conviction) in connection with permits.

69.     Subsection (5) enables the regulations to make provision for the payment of fees in connection with permits, including cases where fees are not payable, provision for the repayment of fees, what those fees should be and what use permit authorities can make of any sums raised through fees.

70.     Subsection (6) enables the regulations to require registers to be kept with information on permits and to make provision in connection with the access to information contained in such a register.

71.     Subsection (7) enables the regulations to provide for cases in which a highway authority (or more than one highway authorities) can prepare a permit scheme in respect of streets for which it is not the highway authority.

72.     Subsection (8) enables the regulations to modify or disapply enactments in connection with permit schemes.

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Prepared: 15 December 2003