Memorandum submitted by the Association
of London Government
1. This paper sets out the evidence by the
Association of London (ALG) on behalf of London boroughs.
The ALG is a representative body of the 33 London local authorities.
It's Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) is the statutory
responsible, among other things, for setting decriminalised parking
penalties in London and operating the Parking and Traffic Appeals
Service (PATAS). It also operates the TRACE service which provides
telephone information on cars which have been legally removed
from London's streets (see Appendix 1).
2. The ALG's view is that parking needs
to be controlled to reduce congestion, improve safety and manage
kerb space where demand for parking exceeds supply by, for example,
prioritising residents', disabled drivers' or business servicing'
needs. The ALG estimates
that about 50 million illegal parking acts take place each year
in London. Many may seem small to perpetrators, yet they cause
congestion, delaying buses in particular, and can cause additional
casualties. Good parking regulations are needed to prevent this
and such regulations are worthless if they are not enforced. Based
on estimates from the Department for Transport, the ALG estimates
that illegal parking in London costs in the order of £270
a year in terms of additional delays and accidents.
Are local authorities carrying out parking control
reasonably? How is performance monitored?
3. Overall the ALG considers London local authorities
are carrying out parking control in a reasonable manner.
In the late 1980s, London boroughs lobbied to take over responsibility
for parking enforcement from the police, who could not give it
any priority. In many parts of London, there was parking anarchy
and London boroughs wished to end that. Estimates in the early
1990s were that less than 1% of illegally parked cars received
any form of penalty and about 50% of fixed penalty notices issued
were not followed up.
With boroughs taking the lead, that has grown to an estimated
10% and where CCTV is used for enforcement, the percentage of
contraventions being penalized is significantly higher (about
80% or in some cases higher). Where CCTV is used for enforcement
there is a demonstrable and significant reduction in the number
4. There has been significant growth in
parking enforcement activity in London since decriminalisation
in 1994. PCN issue has increased from about 2 million a year to
6 million a year, as a result of: new and extended controlled
parking zones (where lack of police enforcement had blocked extensions
prior to 1995); operation of enforcement teams in the evening
and weekends (evening and weekend restrictions were not enforced
by traffic wardens); extension of decriminalisation to other contraventions,
such as bus lanes; use of CCTV for enforcement and general increases
5. More effective enforcement has inevitably
led to some complaints from those who previously were able to
get away with illegal parking, whilst those who benefit from the
enforcement (such as residents who can now park locally) rarely
acknowledge that good enforcement makes this possible. At the
same time, many of the complaints are really about the nature
of the regulations, even when apparently simply about enforcement.
6. London boroughs look to ensure that parking
enforcement is effective and fair. With the volume of enforcement
activity as high as it, it is inevitable that some errors will
occur. However consistent results from the parking adjudicators
suggest that the London boroughs take the right action in 99.5%
7. Unlike most law enforcement, elected
councillors are directly responsible for the policies towards
enforcement in their authority, although they do not get involved
with decisions on individual parking penalties. In its own right,
this provides better safeguards against excesses than might occur
elsewhere. It also ensures that there is proper feedback from
voters to the council on parking policies. This level of scrutiny
and accountability is unmatched elsewhere in the enforcement systems
in the UK.
8. Authorities also monitor public opinion.
For example, in Camden, reviews of all the CPZs introduced in
the last 10 years showed 19% considered there was too little enforcement,
60% about the right level and 21% too much. Croydon carries out
yearly customer surveys to ascertain how the local community views
their performance for on-street and off-street restrictions. Authorities
also recognize that the need for controls needs to be monitored.
In Hackney for example, newly implemented CPZs are the subject
of public review after one year and then every three years. Hackney
also uses surveys and Parking Forums to encourage feedback. The
ALG's own survey of Londoners found that, in 2004, 25% of Londoners
felt that parking enforcement was too strict, 29% felt it was
too lenient and 45% felt that it was about right.
What action would raise the standard of parking
enforcement activity? Is statutory guidance needed to promote
9. Common standards are important. ALG TEC's
predecessor (Parking Committee for London) produced a Code of
Practice on Parking Enforcement and a new version is currently
out for consultation. The Code of Practice covers areas such as
policies, procedures, priorities and notices and provides guidance
on a range of issues.
10. Quality led contracts based on a new
model contract based on a template by the British Parking Association
should help ensure that parking and enforcement standards remain
fair and reasonable. Such contracts should include a series of
key performance indicators to measure the performance of the parking
11. On detailed issues, the ALG considers
that there should be an expectation that all staff should be properly
trained and appropriately qualified after an initial probationary
period. The use of digital cameras to record the offence should
also be encouraged as this gives documentary evidence in the event
of a dispute. London boroughs have pioneered the use of CCTV for
enforcement which provides photographs both on the PCN but also
12. While this advice is important, statutory
guidance (being produced under the Traffic Management Act 2004),
based on good practice, will help to ensure this advice is widely
13. One change which the ALG would strongly
oppose is to give parking attendants discretion to cancel a penalty
notice after it has been issued. There are a number of reasons
for this. First it could increase the impact of aggression or
corruption on parking attendants, as they could be forced to cancel
penalty notices either by physical threats or the offer of money
or other inducements.
Second it is more appropriate for any discussion over exemptions
or mitigation to be dealt with at the town hall, where council
officers with specific training can consider the case with more
information and more consistency that could a parking attendant
on the street. Similarly the ALG does not support the use of "grace
periods" as disputes would merely shift to the end of the
Is the appeals process fair and effective? How
could it be improved?
14. The parking adjudicators constitute
a statutory tribunal to consider appeals against parking penalties
and were created under the Road Traffic Act 1991. Under the Act,
the adjudicators are appointed by ALG Transport and Environment
Committee (TEC), subject to confirmation by the Lord Chancellor.
Whilst adjudicators are paid by ALG TEC, neither payment nor appointment
rests in any way on the decision they make. This ensures that
adjudicators are independent of the boroughs which have been responsible
for the issue of notices.
15. A little less than 1% of PCNs result
in an appeal to the adjudicatorsa ratio that has remained
broadly constant for 10 years. Between 55% and 60% of appeals
are allowed by the adjudicatorsagain a percentage which
is consistent over time. Arrangements for appeals have been set
up with users' needs in mind. User surveys carries out by ALG
(most recently in 2003) show that while satisfaction depends mainly
on the result of the appeal, over 80% of appellants
are generally satisfied wit the quality of the process. The Leggatt
of tribunals described PATAS as "the most user focused aspect
of justice in the UK".
Is it appropriate that local authorities should
keep the revenue generated from parking fines? Is there evidence
that the opportunity to raise revenue through decriminalised parking
enforcement has inappropriately influenced authorities' parking
and enforcement activity?
16. The ALG is strongly of the view that
local authorities should retain the income generated from parking
penalties. There is no other source of income for the management
and enforcement of parking. Even were grant supplied for enforcement
it would be difficult to negotiate a suitable level of grant to
enable effective and accountable enforcement to take place.
17. Parking enforcement income, together
with income from on street parking charges, must under current
go into a separate parking account. The legislation requires that
any surplus of income over expenditure can only be used by boroughs
in limited circumstances:
For the provision of further parking
facilities, on or off street, within or without the borough boundaries;
and where further expenditure is either unnecessary or undesirable.
On pubic transport facilities, services
On highway improvements.
On scheme to support the transport
strategy of the Mayor of London.
On environmental improvements.
18. For 2003-04, London local authorities
had a total income of at least £337 million.
Against this, operational costs accounted for about £194
million leaving an overall in-year surplus of £143 million.
Of the £136 million of surpluses spent in 2003-04,
Boroughs used around £69 million (51%) to support concessionary
fares, taxicard, community transport and other public transport
and £56 million (41%) on highways and traffic (including
maintenance, traffic management, parking provision and road safety).
19. Much of the cost of the Freedom Pass,
which provides transport for London elderly and disabled residents,
is funded from parking account surpluses. London's concessionary
fares provision is much more generous that the national standard
and will continue to be so after the introduction of free off
peak bus travel for the elderly and disabled from April 2006.
It is unlikely that the Freedom Pass scheme could be sustained
in its present more generous form without support from parking
20. The Golden Jubilee Foot Bridges (either
side of Hungerford Railway Bridge) and parts of the London Cycling
Network are other examples funded from parking surpluses.
21. Most but not all boroughs make some
surplus on their parking accounts. However the main reason for
this rests with parking charges rather than parking penalties.
Authorities are advised that parking penalties should be set on
a market basis, so that 85% occupancy is achieved. Many authorities
charge less than this. Parking enforcement on its own is normally
little more than self financing. Of the 25 London boroughs for
which figures are available in relation to 2003-04, one made a
deficit and only seven made a surplus of more than £5 million.
22. The objective of the decriminalised
enforcement regime is to ensure compliance with parking regulations.
The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 sets out the only lawful
objectives for making parking regulations. Both statute and case
make it clear that any authority that based its enforcement policy
on the objective of revenue raising would be acting unlawfully.
Independent investigations from the London Assembly
and the former Chief Constable of Lincolnshire
have found no evidence to support such allegations of revenue
raising that are made.
23. The ALG is therefore firmly of the view
that London local authorities' parking and enforcement activity
is not inappropriately influenced by the ability to retain fixed
What criteria should be used to determine the
level of parking provision that should be provided?
24. The ALG believes that it would be inappropriate,
if not impossible, to set national criteria for determining the
level of parking provision. The limited road space and lack of
off street parking in many urban areas, particularly in Inner
London, require a quite different approach to areas where there
are fewer constraints on road space.
25. The Mayor Spatial Development Strategy
sets the policy for London. Policy 3C.22 begins by saying that
the Mayor, in conjunction with boroughs, will seek to ensure that
on-site car parking at new developments is the minimum necessary
and that there is no over provision that could undermine the use
of more sustainable non-car modes. The ALG supports this position
as it is clearly untenable to encourage car use by the provision
of car parking when London's roads are already having difficulty
coping with current traffic levels.
What are the wider impacts of current parking
policy and illegally parked vehicles?
26. Current parking policies in London aim
to assist in the economic viability of local areas by controlling
where vehicles park, for example enabling visitors to have priority
over commuters and allocating limited kerbside space to allow
servicing of business. The issue of parking policy and its impact
on local economies across Europe has been examined in an EU sponsored
This has found that while parking availability can be important,
there is no relationship between parking costs and economic success.
What role should parking policy play in traffic
management and demand management?
27. Parking policy cannot be divorced from
traffic and demand management. Parking controls can deter journeys
to areas where there is limited parking and through traffic can
also be managed by preventing parking for some or all of the day
to ease traffic flows. It can and should regulate the available
capacity where this is limited. The Mayor's Transport Strategy
proposed that London boroughs should submit a Parking and Enforcement
Plan as an integral part of their Local Implementation Plan (which
sets out how boroughs will meet the Mayor's Transport Strategy).
This is now being taken forward.
How can public understanding and acceptance of
the need for parking policy be achieved?
28. The ALG recognises that controls on
parking can be unpopular but the alternative of a free for all
would be even more unacceptable. Much of media focus on parking
is on the negative stories. However boroughs do try and communicate
the rationale behind their parking and enforcement policies.
29. Overall London's parking enforcement
regime provides an approach which reduces congestion and accidents
and which regulates the use of the kerb space more effectively
than its predecessor and does so at no net cost to the public.
Any approach to increasing enforcement is bound to bring complaints
from those who were able to get away with unlawful behaviour for
their own benefit. Within that statutory approach to challenges
to penalties, ending up with an independent adjudicator, provides
a demonstrably robust system.
2 When the term "borough" is used in this
paper, it should be taken to include the Corporation of London. Back
As required in section 73 of the Road Traffic Act 1991. Back
On the basis of information supplied by boroughs. Back
This is based on figures produced by the Department of Transport
updated to reflect inflation and increased traffic flow in London
since the original report by the of the Working Party on Parking
Enforcement (1989). Back
This is supported. For example, Richard Currie from the Association
of International Couriers and Express Services said, on 20 September
2005, "We may not always agree with their decisions, but
we've always been dealt with fairly by local authorities." Back
Report of the Home Office Working Party on Parking Enforcement
On the basis that about 0.5% of penalty charge notices result
in a successful appeal to the adjudicator. Back
On average, three parking attendants are assaulted every day
in London, as it stands. Back
Eighty-eight per cent of successful appellants are satisfied
with the overall outcome while 25% of unsuccessful appellants
are satisfied. Back
Tribunals for Users: one system one service: report of the Review
of Tribunals by Sir Andrew Leggatt; March 2001. Back
Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Back
Details in Appendix 2B (Figures based on returns from 25 of the
33 London authorities). Back
This figure is the actual figure spent and differs from the in
year surplus because of surpluses and deficits carried between
Notably R v LB Camden, ex parte Cran and others 1997. Back
London Assembly review of parking enforcement, 2005. Back
British Parking Association 2005. Back
The London Plan, Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London:
Greater London Authority: February 2004. Back
COST 342 (2005). Back
The Mayor's Transport Strategy: Greater London Authority: July