Examination of Witnesses (Questions 141
WEDNESDAY 7 DECEMBER 2005
Q141 Chairman: Good afternoon, gentlemen.
The last should be first and the first last, so can I say I am
delighted to see you here. Could I ask you to identify yourselves.
Mr Link: I am Mike Link representing
the Institution of Highways and Transportation.
Mr Elliott: I am John Elliott
representing the Technical Advisors Group of local government.
Mr Adams: Seamus Adams, Assistant
Director of Transportation for the London Borough of Hackney.
Mr Franklin: I am the Chief Executive
of the national charity Living Streets.
Q142 Chairman: Thank you very much
indeed. I am able to go straight to questions, am I, or did anyone
want to say anything? No? Fine. Can I ask you all, are the links
being made between parking policy, traffic management and street
Mr Link: Not strongly enough would
be the Institution's opinion. I think the recognition that parking
is one of the building blocks is in fact insufficiently recognised.
There was reference earlier to the fact that it is enshrined in
local transport plans, the requirement for it. That is actually
weakened in the second round of local transport plans, which is
Q143 Chairman: Weakened?
Mr Link: Yes.
Q144 Chairman: Have you got clear
evidence of that?
Mr Link: My understanding is that
it is no longer a requirement of the second round of local transport
Q145 Chairman: Well, now we do have
an immediate difference of view.
Mr Link: In any event, there is
very little emphasis placed upon it by Government through the
Department for Transport. Their eyes now seem to be focused on
Transport Innovation Funds and road charging, and the like, and
yet for the vast majority of local authorities for many years
to come parking management will represent a very valuable tool
in managing traffic and making transport more sustainable and
there is a danger that it will be overlooked. So the Institution
would not agree with earlier comments that there is sufficient
integration of parking strategies into transport policy at a local
Q146 Chairman: That is interesting.
Can I ask you, Mr Elliott, you have suggested there should be
leadership on explaining the reasons for parking control, but
who should that come from?
Mr Elliott: I think it needs to
come from central government first. To reiterate some of the things,
there is not enough emphasis on parking control. For 95% of the
time a vehicle is stationary. Far more attention is given to the
time it is moving than the time it is stationary in Government
policy and at all levels.
Q147 Chairman: So you do not really
think that either the Government or local authorities give sufficient
attention to the consultation with the residents and the businesses?
Mr Link: I would not like to suggest
on behalf of the Institution that local authorities do not give
attention to those things when they are introducing schemes.
Q148 Chairman: No, but I was just
wondering if you thought there was sufficient requirement on councils
to take note of the demands of their local residents?
Mr Link: I believe there is. Without
wishing to advertise, the Institution produced this document earlier
in the year. I was on the working group.
Q149 Chairman: It is a very good
document. I spent my August reading it. I just did decide halfway
through August I was a sad person!
Mr Link: Well, that makes two
of us! To a large extent, we felt we were making the best of a
bad job. It is so difficult to do what you are suggesting in the
current circumstances. The policy lead from DfT is insufficient.
The signing, as we heard earlier, is a disaster area. Police enforcement
in most of the country has been non-existent for years, leading
to parking regulations being ignored. Local authorities are coming
in and in many cases re-establishing controls. Quite often the
motives for doing that become confused. You have quite rightly
identified that whilst some authorities might not set a target
for income, once a budget forecast is made it is as good as a
target and the original objectives for introducing schemes, which
are about traffic management, free-flow and turnover, are often
lost. If I may say so, the preponderance of thought given to enforcement
and making that effective and fair ignores the reasons why the
schemes were introduced. I think somebody said earlier the key
thing is compliance and yet nowhere do we see performance being
measured in terms of the compliance which is being achieved, the
original objective for the scheme. I think to a certain extent
the emphasis given to statistics between whether different authorities
are successful in appeals or not, as we have heard, can represent
all sorts of other things and are a very poor indicator of whether
or not a scheme is performing well against its transport objectives.
Mr Franklin: We think that there
have been some improvements. We think that decriminalised parking
enforcement has led to an improvement in many places in the country
and in fact it has been a victim of its own success. It is not
surprising that criticism has increased because actually there
are more notices being issued and parking enforcement has got
tougher. But we are concerned that there are two-thirds of the
local authorities in this country where they do not have control
over parking enforcement and we think that should be standardised
across the country. We would also say actually that pavement parking
in London is now far better than it has been in the past and that
is because in London pavement parking is not allowed except in
designated areas. But we think that should be extended across
the country as a whole because parking on pavements is a massive
issue for pedestrians, particularly for pedestrians with disabilities.
Chairman: I think we want to explore
both of those.
Q150 Mr Martlew: You mentioned that
decriminalisation has made it better and I look at your example
of the City. Surely you can get better parking, but have you noticed
that the traffic flow is any different? Is this not a failure
of the systems?
Mr Elliott: I think London traffic
flow has improved throughout considering ever-increasing demands
on it. Without parking control, which we have had since 1994 in
London, I think the situation would be very much worse than it
is now. Parking is the only measure of controlling traffic in
outer London. In central London we have got an excellent public
transport system and congestion charging, but in outer London
it is working. In other cities, Oxford is a city where they have
actually improved traffic flow quite dramatically over the years,
Q151 Mr Martlew: But this is the
way they implement the scheme other than just fining people?
Mr Elliott: Unless you have a
mechanism there to say, "You park there and not there,"
and follow that up, your policies will never work. That was the
trouble before decriminalised parking. We had a third of a million
people parking illegally in central London every day and those
were a third of a million trips in of extra traffic that we have
got rid of, or we have got rid of a significant number of them
because of decriminalised parking.
Mr Adams: I think the other added
benefits in terms of managing the roadside space, in terms of
road safety, keeping junctions clear and pedestrian accessibility
are paramount and that is themed through with the introduction
of CPZs. It is the enforcement around those junctions. It is clear
where there are no CPZs in built-up areas those junctions are
Q152 Chairman: We try to avoid initials,
Mr Adams. CPZs may be very close to you, but not to us.
Mr Adams: I do apologise, controlled
Q153 Mr Martlew: If we can go on
from that, the situation is that people get very annoyed if they
are charged for overstaying, yet people do not appear to be implementing
it outside schools with the zigzags? Is that a correct assumption?
Mr Adams: I would say not, and
certainly in the borough I represent
Q154 Mr Martlew: I am a bit worried
that a lot of it is London-orientated. It is much better than
the rest of the country, I will give you that, but it is not the
Mr Adams: I think road safety
is paramount. Certainly for schools, zigzags, it is paramount
that it is enforced rigorously and certainly in the authority
I represent we rigorously enforce that and it is paramount in
terms of road safety.
Q155 Chairman: Does Mr Franklin want
to make a comment on this?
Mr Franklin: We would say that
there are different levels of offences and that there should be
greater enforcement around things, not just schools but also hospitals
and places where there are likely to be more vulnerable pedestrians.
We would actually favour differential rates in terms of fines,
and so on, so that those infringements which really affect pedestrians,
for instance parking on pavements, should be treated more seriously.
We would like to see that measured through the performance indicator
regime as well. So it is not just a blanket figure for the number
of notices issued, it is looking at the type of the enforcement
action which his being taken.
Mr Link: If I may comment and
draw the last two points together? There is far more chance of
the sort of effective enforcement which is being talked about
here where there is decriminalisation than where there is not.
Therefore, I think a very clear view from the Institution would
be that decriminalisation should be completed across the country
as soon as possible.
Q156 Chairman: Do you accept this
argument that it works very efficiently if you have got a certain
size of authority? Nobody is suggesting coterminosity, but the
suggestion is you need a certain population size.
Mr Link: It can work anywhere.
There are examples where it is working in all sorts of different
authorities and it provides the opportunity for local control
and local discretion and local resources to target enforcement
in areas where there is not decriminalisation and where the police
are simply not resourced or prepared to do it.
Q157 Mr Martlew: I have not been
on the Committee very long, but obviously I am very jealous of
the way in which London manages its traffic. It has already been
mentioned that it is against the rules to park on a pavement in
London. Do you believe that should be spread out throughout the
Mr Elliott: Yes.
Q158 Chairman: You are really pleading
for consistency, are you not? If we had a code of conduct with
an acceptable series of these very basic points, you are really
pleading for consistency across all authorities, are you not?
Mr Franklin: We are saying that
what works should be adopted across the country.
Q159 Chairman: How do we define what
works? If you have got that formula in your pocket, you will be
a very rich man because you will be a consultant to every government
department I have every known.
Mr Franklin: We do try, but to
give you an example, we undertake community street audits with
communities where we go out and we are looking at the streets
and looking at what is good and what is bad about them, and we
see a very big difference between what happens in London and the
rest of the country. In the rest of the country communities are
telling us, and we see it with our own eyes, that pavements are
blocked. We have got the Disability Discrimination Act in this
country, which means that public transport is becoming more accessible,
which means that buildings are becoming more accessible, but it
is no good if the pavements themselves in between those two are
not accessible and what we are finding is that it is not just
people in wheelchairs, it is parents with buggies and people with
shopping having to go into the road to get past parked cars and
there is absolutely no reason for it.