Memorandum submitted by Technical Advisors
Group for House of Commons Transport Committee
We would like to thank the House of Commons
Transport Committee for the opportunity of giving evidence on
this very important subject.
The Technical Advisors Group known as TAG is
a professional body representing 400 Chief Technical Officers
of Local Authorities in Districts, London Boroughs, Metropolitan
Authorities and Unitary Councils in England, Wales and Northern
Ireland. The active members are normally chief technical officers
and second and third tier officers in technical departments. Our
responsibilities include highways, traffic, transportation and
parking and often town planning. They also often include buildings
(on behalf of other front line service departments), building
design/architecture, building control, cleansing, waste collection
and disposal, leisure, property assets, land drainage, coastal
protection and environmental services.
Many of our members will have contributed to
other submissions to the Committee from individual local authorities
and from Local Government Associations.
In the press notice we note that there are eight
bullet points the Committee wishes to particularly examine. The
seventh is "What role should parking policy play in traffic
management and demand management" and the eighth is "How
can public understanding and acceptance of the need for parking
policy be achieved." These we consider are the key to all
the other issues and would wish to deal with them first in our
1. What role should parking policy play in
traffic management and demand management?
It has long been recognised that parking policy
and management is an exceptionally powerful tool in planning a
town's structure and its traffic and transportation. It is notable
that the original "Bible" on planning and transport
for townsTraffic in Towns, better known as the Buchanan
Report published in 1963, states:
"We think it will be necessary for transportation
plans to be based on a conscious decision regarding the extent
to which demand for optional use of cars can be met. The plans
should contain measures to influence demand so that it matches
the provision that can be made . . . there appear to be four possibilities:
(i) A system of permits or licences . . .
(ii) A system of pricing the use of road space
. . .
(iii) Parking Policy.
(iv) Subsidising public transport so that it
offers considerable financial advantages over the use of cars."
(Traffic in towns para 451)
"Of these four methods . . . everything
points to the immediate importance of parking policy. It appears
absolutely essential that the public authority should retain complete
(i) the amount of parking space that is provided,
(ii) its location, and
(iii) the charges that are levied, . . . "
(Traffic in towns para 452)
It is also stated elsewhere:
". . . We think people may have to
be told very firmly where, and when, and how they can use their
vehicles, but we feel sure they will demand the right of ownership
. . . " (Traffic in towns Para 370).
The only element of the four included in Buchanan's
suggested strategy that has been employed in any reasonably consistent
manner is Parking Policy. However even in this there have been
significant gaps and failures in the implementation over the years.
An example of a continuing gap is the application of effective
management of "Workplace", and indeed out of town shopping,
car parks. It is interesting to note that on Workplace parking,
Buchanan commented as follows:
"The question of how much parking space
should be provided in new buildings needs to be considered from
two points of view, namely, liability and convenience of access
". . . the application of arbitrary parking
standards to new buildings may produce an accumulation of parking
space which the network cannot deal with . . ."
"To summarise we think the parking policies
need re-examination to ensure that traffic difficulties are not
being `built in' by the provision of too much parking space in
the wrong position, and that owners and developers are not being
burdened with liabilities which are not really for them to carry."
(Paragraphs 454, 455 and 456 of the Buchanan Report)
Apart from town and transport planning reasons
to manage and control all types of parking, climate change is
now one of the most important issues facing all of us; control
of parking to reduce traffic levels is an important aspect in
reducing CO2 emissions.
Parking policy is obviously key both in how
a town is being developed and in ensuring that a town can function
properly and this must affect all parking, including on street,
publicly available off street and shopping car parks, car parks
attached to places of work, and both on and off street residential
parking. For Local Authorities to manage these issues effectively,
they need reasonable control of all types of parking. Furthermore
despite Buchanan's comments about people having a right to own
cars some authorities and indeed advice from the ODPM are now
seriously rationing residential parking in towns not to build
up too many problems from resident's parking.
On street parking was first controlled in the
UK by use of meters in the Mayfair area of London from 1958. Residential
parking zones, to give inner city residents some possibilities
for owning cars, were introduced from 1968 in Belgravia and Knightsbridge.
The parking controls which followed in the '60s for meters and
early '70s for residents and meters, in London and elsewhere,
were generally well accepted. Often residents, businesses and
transport organisations strongly supported them for their very
real benefitsin rationing the limited available kerbside
space, in removing bottle-necks from badly parked cars and in
managing the total volume of traffic on the network.
Unfortunately in the early and mid '70s the
police, who had responsibility for enforcing the parking regulations,
failed to carry out proper enforcement to maintain the effectiveness
of the controls. Parking management decayed into a state of anarchy.
By 1976 there were one third of a million illegal
parking acts per day in the core central area of London. Each
parking act was effectively a trip end, so apart from roads being
blocked and essential servicing being made very difficult, there
were many more vehicle trips on the road than "intended".
It is notable that within this core area only about half a million
"parking tickets" were issued per year, many of which
escaped eventual payment. From the non-law abiding point of view,
by far the cheapest place to park was on a yellow line, or perhaps
even a pedestrian zigzag marking. For one hour's parking in the
mid 70s the cost for a determined law avoider was typically half
a penny per hour. At that time the cost for parking legally at
a meter were 30p per hour. The risks from illegal parking on a
meter or residents parking space were also considerably cheaper
than this legal parking charge.
Pressure from Local Authorities to the Ministry
of Transport and the Home Office resulted in a chain of events
from the Wheel Clamp Experiment in the mid 1980s to the 1991 Road
Traffic Act. It is interesting to note that this Local Authority
campaign was led initially by such unlikely comrades as Dave Wetzel
from the GLC and Dame Shirley Porter from Westminster who made
a united approach to try and resolve this very serious problem.
During the process it became clear that in many other areas of
the country the police were not being effective in enforcing parking
regulations and the 1991 Act did allow for extension of decriminalised
parking control to be introduced nationwide.
From this we put to the Committee the fundamental
importance of parking control (very desirably for all types of
parking) and its effective enforcement for the basic functioning
of our towns and cities in the UK and to help the future of the
planet (global warming).
2. How can public understanding and acceptance
for the need for Parking Policy be achieved?
While TAG and officers in our various departments
and indeed whole councils generally understand the need for parking
control and management, there are large sections of the public
that do not understand the issues described above. Furthermore
most of us behave in our own personal interests rather than thinking
of wider interests. This is particularly true if we feel we can
get away without any personal penalty. This applies to speeding,
illegal parking, or for even less law abiding people, graffiti,
vandalism, burglary etc.
Changing culture to accept the importance of
parking management and control is now a hard uphill task. It can
only be achieved by using every available means to change culture,
provide real sticks and carrots to encourage the right parking
behaviour, and make sure the approach is fully joined up including
linking to other types of parking space as described above. Historically
we have had considerable success on issues like drink driving
or smoking over the last 30 years. Control of speeding is another
issue that is generally well accepted however, as with parking
control, there has been too much willingness to surrender to law
breakers who do not think of the wider implications of their behaviour.
TAG and Local Authorities must accept a considerable
share of the responsibility of failure to explain the reasons
for parking control. We believe that moving forward, from the
position we are presently in, we need to ensure that all people
in authority accept the importance of parking control and provide
the necessary leadership and example. This must include the police
(even if they are not actually charged with enforcement of parking
control) and indeed Government Ministers and Members of Parliament.
We should make every effort to work with the press whenever possible
to make them aware and explain the issues. A key area where making
the public aware of the issues is when drivers first start to
drive. More weight could be given to teaching young drivers of
the importance of parking control and providing better and fuller
advice within the Highway Code.
It is noticeable that vehicles are stationary
for 95% of the time and only moving for 5%. Far more attention,
relative to the importance given to moving vehicles, needs to
be given to stationary vehiclesa vehicle is, of course,
only useful to its owner or driver when it has reached its destination
and is parked.
3. Are Local Authorities carrying out parking
control reasonably, fairly and accountably? How is performance
We are firmly of the opinion that, in the main,
Local Authorities are carrying out parking control reasonably,
fairly and accountably. There may be areas where some parking
attendants are inadequately trained, just as any other group of
workers, including the police. If anything there is more evidence
that the enforcement is not being carried out strictly enough
rather than vice-versa. Evidence even from Local Authorities with
well managed and funded parking operations show that, where compliance
surveys have been carried out, only about one in 10 of offenders
receive a parking ticket, this may be better than for speeding
motorists but it gives everybody a chance to escape on too many
Different authorities use different performance
measures and many of these will no doubt be described to the Committee.
The single most obvious performance measure is compliance with
4. What action would raise the standard of
Parking Enforcement Activity? Is statutory guidance needed to
Recruitment and training of the highest reasonable
standard of parking attendants is a critical issue. While the
occupation is suffering from unnecessary abuse and generally low
pay levels it will be difficult to raise standards everywhere.
5. Is the appeals process fair and effective?
How could it be improved?
From our members, we are aware of cases where
appeals have been inadequately dealt with but this is hardly surprising
in the vast numbers of offences and penalty charge notices issued.
Furthermore every Local Authority has heard of quite exceptional
excuses particularly from the perennial non-compliant parker,
who is skilled in manufacturing of bogus excuses. Sometimes it
is difficult to recognise the few genuine cases amongst so many
6. Is it appropriate that Local Authorities
should keep the revenue generated from parking fines? Is there
any evidence that the opportunity to raise revenue through decriminalized
parking enforcement has inappropriately influenced authorities'
parking policy and enforcement activity?
The failure of the Police to enforce parking
regulations in the 1970s led to the 1991 Act. In order for Local
Authorities not to subsidise car drivers (and particularly car
drivers who have no respect for the "law") from poorer
members of society (often non-car owners), it is only reasonable
that the costs should go back to the drivers who have no respect
for the parking regulations. With the history of development of
parking control and the direct link between those offending and
the need to make sure that they are caught, we strongly believe
that Local Authorities should keep the revenue generated from
parking penalty charge notices.
All Local Authorities are charged with being
as economical as they reasonably can with the cost of providing
services, however what parking funds can be used on, either from
on street parking charges or from penalty charge notices are strictly
prescribed to be spent on transport related expenditure. This
expenditure is generally for the public good and the people being
required to pay are those that have less respect for other people
and the law. This seems to be a very satisfactory situation. Nevertheless
where expenditure from any parking surpluses is actually spent
may benefit from being more transparentthe Local transport
Plan process could be used to provide this transparency.
7. What criteria should be used to determine
the level of parking provision that should be provided?
The level of parking to be provided in any town
or any area of a town is to meet the local requirements. In the
first instance the kerb side space should be reserved for safety,
for ensuring reasonably free passage of vehicles along the network,
then for essential loading and unloading facilities including
particularly Public Transport, then to help other commercial interests
in the area such as short term parking for business visits, shopping
etc. Residents' parking is then a high priority, to allow people
the level of service that can be gained in newer developments
where off street parking provision is provided. The last priority,
if a town can cope with car commuting, is to provide for long
This hierarchy of space management and provision
should all be as part of a package including on and off street
parking wherever the Local Authority has sufficient controls and
public backing to deal with the situation. Apart from these conflicting
needs, which have to be balanced for each area (together with
the costs of provision of parking and road space), we do not consider
there are any further criteria that could be usefully employed
for the level of parking provision, certainly not laid down on
a national or regional basis.
8. What are the wider impacts of current parking
policy and illegally parked vehicles?
In the answer to the seventh question raised
by the Committee, (which we have answered first), we have already
covered this question to a significant extent. There are however
certain details and new developments in parking policy for specific
areas that should be addressed as part of Local Authorities continual
The acute shortage of space in some older dense
urban areas prevents some of the real priorities being adequately
provided for in any controlled parking zone design. This together
with, for example the growing size of delivery vehicles, presents
constant strains to Local Authorities. Servicing of both commercial
and residential premises is certainly an area which is being studied
by a number of Local Authorities to try and improve the level
of service whilst still maintaining the basic priorities and needs
of a parking control system.
For "illegally" parked vehicles there
are a number of areas where regular "illegal" parkers
manage to avoid complying with regulations on a consistent basis.
Some of these are because of not properly registered vehicles,
non UK licence plates duplicate number plates etc. Others are
from the lack of Local Authorities powers to chase up past tickets
when vehicles are clamped or impounded and also vehicles being
occupied while causing a nuisance on street and being driven off
whenever a parking attendant appears. All these ways in which
enforcement is made very difficult are particular issues that
need further attention.
9. Other Issues
Some other issues were touched in the first
three paragraphs of the Committee's press notice. We are aware
that some authorities do make substantial surpluses on car parking
particularly Metropolitan Authorities where most of the parking
and problems are in the central area. This may be a different
Authority to outer areas. More transparency by Local Authorities
as to exactly where the surpluses go could, we believe, help in
assuaging resistance from some members of the public. Central
London Authorities, particularly, are the Authorities with large
surpluses and it is notable that such Authorities do have a generally
higher standard of traffic and environmental management in their
areasa significant element of which is funded from parking
We also concur with the comment in the third
paragraph of the Committee's press notice that there is a risk
that public perception of parking may deteriorate if action is
not taken to promote the legitimacy of parking control. We would
strongly support any efforts on this front that can be made. This
is covered in the second point above.
Wheel clamping can potentially generate conflict
on street, and is often a difficult activity for a Local Authority.
Fairly few Local Authorities use wheel clamping. It is however
a very visible deterrent to others and it is a punishment that
generally fits the crime very well. The non-compliant driver parks
in an unsuitable place for their own convenience, so inconveniencing
others. To be inconvenienced by the length of time to get their
vehicle back is often a more powerful deterrent than a fine which
for some people is a very small part of their overall income.
Vehicle removal has similar benefits in terms of those where the
payment is not a large part of their income but is not so effective
a deterrent when the vehicle is no longer visible to the next
We do not generally support wheel clamping or
tow away for small overstays at pay and display, however there
may be a case for gradation of the penalty charge for overstaying
Many of the issues to be discussed at the Transport
Committee have been raised recently in reviews of parking carried
out by others; we trust that the evidence from these other reviews
will be put before the Transport Committee.
We hope the information above will be useful
to the Committee. We would be pleased to give oral evidence if
required. Any questions on our evidence should in the first instance
be directed to our Transport Committee Secretary John Elliott
obtainable on 01227 765626, 07810 204400 or e-mail email@example.com.