Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 7 DECEMBER 2005
Q160 Mr Martlew: To come back again
to where London seems to do it very well is with the bus lanes
and the parking in bus lanes. Are you of the opinion that London
is the only centre which actually controls it properly and the
rest of the country is lagging behind? Is that the view?
Mr Elliott: No. I think London
has an advantage because it has had decriminalisation since 1994,
so it has had a longer time to get its act together. It has also
been in the traffic limitation business since 1958 or thereabouts
when the first meter appeared. Lots of historic cities like York,
I mentioned Oxford before, and Cambridge are very good examples
where there is a traffic imperative to get this right. Without
then the follow up with enforcement it all falls apart.
Q161 Mr Martlew: The good practice
is not spread throughout the country, is that what you are saying?
Mr Elliott: I think it is a case
of what is the priority in an area. Lots of areas do not have
the sorts of traffic pressures which the big cities, the historic
cities or the city centres of major conurbations have, so it does
not case the same sorts of problems when people do break the laws
of traffic flow and the general management of transport. So it
is not just London. London has had longer at it, but it is a lot
of other places where they have a real issue, where it becomes
less of an issue. It is more difficult for you folks as representatives
of people to push things like this at a local level.
Q162 Chairman: That is far off the
point though, Mr Elliott, is it not, because you have just assured
me that decriminalisation should exist all the way across the
United Kingdom. How are they going to pay for it, because smaller
councils in smaller towns are going to find it rather difficult,
are they not, to actually pay for recruiting, for maintaining
a team of attendants and to maintain all the back-office staff
with all the equipment which is going to be necessary?
Mr Elliott: It is much harder
in smaller authorities and I think small authorities have got
to get together in some way, either under a country banner or
get joint working arrangements.
Chairman: We await with great interest
the effect of that!
Q163 Clive Efford: Could I ask Mr
Link, is the planning policy guidance on parking provision appropriate
and would you like to see it changed in any way?
Mr Link: You are referring here
to PPG13. Undoubtedly the implementation of these policies is
putting more pressure on on-street parking, if that is behind
your question, but then if the policy was going to be effective
that was an inevitable consequence, that behaviour would have
to change and that that would be uncomfortable. So I am not sure
if you are suggesting that it can be implemented without those
Q164 Clive Efford: I am asking you
whether there is any way it could be improved?
Mr Link: Without un-picking the
policy, then I do not think it can be. If the policy is going
to work and if the policy is correct in terms of changing behaviour
and travel demands and people's propensity to own cars, or use
them, then it was bound to have an impact upon on-street parking
in certain areas.
Mr Franklin: I think there are
probably other things which can be done in addition. It is not
just about the number of parking spaces, it is also thinking about
the design of neighbourhoods, are they walkable, are local facilities
within walking distance? All of these things make a very big difference
on the demand for car use. With new developments, are there facilities
there for cycling? So many new homes are designed in such a way
that actually it is very difficult to own and to use a bike on
a regular basis. Car clubs are another very effective way in new
developments of reducing the level of demand for cars. I think
all of these measures together with parking can make a difference
in terms of car use locally.
Mr Elliott: Can I add on that,
obviously the PPG and management parking enforcement are to some
extent the stick. The carrots, as Mr Franklin has explained, need
to be there as wellthe improved public transport and all
the other bits. But PPG13 is possibly long-overdue. I quoted what
Buchanan was saying about traffic in towns in 1962. It was not
until 1969 the standard changed in London, having had very clear
advice seven years earlier, and it is not until basically 2000
that it changed in the rest of the country.
Q165 Chairman: If we had followed
some of his recommendations about ringroads and various other
rather basic bits of planning we would have been in a much better
situation many years ago.
Mr Elliott: They were not actually
recommendations, they were examples of how you could, if you wanted
to, reconstruct towns, but fortunately, I think, we have not reconstructed
Chairman: They should have been recommendations.
Q166 Clive Efford: In relation to
PPG3, which sets a maximum for on-street parking spaces according
to the availability of local public transport means, is that sensible?
Most people have a car for domestic or pleasure use anywhere regardless
of whether they travel to work by public transport. Is PPG3 a
sensible way to try to reduce car use by saying less parking spaces
will result in less parkings?
Mr Link: I think given the caveats
earlier about also providing the alternatives in well-planned
developments, then yes, it is effective and there is evidence
that across the country local authorities can live, if you like,
within those new maximums.
Q167 Clive Efford: Are you aware
of any councils which have got any innovative schemes such as
giving priority to car-share schemes in their parking policy?
Mr Franklin: There is a whole
series of housing associations in West London, for instance, who
are working on car-free development schemes where there are car
club schemes as part of those, and certainly within some local
authorities it becomes a planning condition that the developer
actually supports the setting up of a car club. So these things
can work. They are difficult and I think each new development
needs to be taken on its merits because they are not all the same
and it does depend on all of those other factors too. Car-free
developments without those other things will not work, but I think
with them car-free developments and reduced parking are part of
Q168 Clive Efford: Do you think that
local authorities do enough to encourage park and ride schemes,
either parking at rail heads or at other transport termini in
their planning strategies? Do you think they do enough of that?
Mr Elliott: Park and ride is an
interesting phenomenon. There are certain sorts of condition for
it to work well, historic towns with highly-controlled central
areas, ringroads, limited numbers of access roads. You have got
to be very careful also that you do not take people off the ordinary
bus services or anything else, that they drive all the way into
the park and ride and then take the park and ride. There is also
a bit of a financial distortion in the way park and ride is treated.
Local authorities can effectively subsidise park and ride whereas
it is much, much harder since the 1985 Bus Act to do the same
for ordinary buses. So I think there is a distortion. One has
to be very careful of park and ride. It has its places. They are
incredibly successful places, park and ride, Oxford being an example.
London exists on a tremendous amount of park and ride, but you
have to be careful; it does not apply everywhere.
Q169 Clive Efford: I am interested
that you say that about London. At the risk of upsetting Mr Martlew
further, in and around London, do you think there is enough strategic
thinking around providing parking spaces which could help reduce
car use and the number of journeys undertaken into London?
Mr Elliott: Unfortunately, there
has been a gap, obviously, between the GLC being abolished and
TfL picking up the reins when those sorts of strategic issues
could not be looked at properly. For my sins, I worked for Barking
and Dagenham at one stage, ideal park and ride sites for central
London, but Barking and Dagenham would have no benefit from it,
it would be Westminster which would benefit, unless Westminster
gave some money to Barking and Dagenham.
Q170 Chairman: That does happen though,
does it not? The City of London has arrangements with local authorities
around them to provide certain services for which they make a
monetary contribution. So it is not entirely beyond the wit of
councils to get together and plan that sort of application, is
Mr Elliott: No, but it is harder
because the City of London would be buying its services on specific
items. It would be Westminster, Camden, the City of London, Southwark
and Lambeth who would all have a benefit from Barking and Dagenham
providing a park and ride service. TfL can now handle that.
Q171 Mrs Ellman: Would you say that
local authorities have used parking policy for traffic management
Mr Elliott: I would say not enough,
no, obviously as a professional transport planner and having worked
in this field for a long time. There are a lot of things working
against it, from Government funding to public reaction, comments
about Buchanan. Do people know about it? Do they know about those
sorts of issues of planning transport? I do not think any of us
have told the public enough about the why of transport; it has
always been, "What is the latest point I could score?"
Mr Link: I would agree with the
point in your question. I think I said earlier that it is an underrated
part of the toolkit, as it were, of traffic management techniques
and in danger of becoming more sidelined in terms of the emphasis
given to it by Government, which is looking elsewhere. I think
there is a feeling that Government has said, "There's decriminalisation
of parking. Get on with it," and the main focus from the
Department for Transport now is the Transport Innovation Fund
and congestion charging and the like whereas, as I have said,
for the vast majority of local authorities for many years to come,
this will be one of their main techniques for managing demand.
Mr Franklin: It is not just transport,
it is also streetscape issues as well. I do not think there is
enough of a link between parking and the wider streetscape issues.
All of the surveys show that the public see a very clear link
between the quality of their life locally and all of those sorts
of issues to do with traffic management and general streetscape
and I think there is a lot more which could be done with using
parking in terms of improving the general quality of the local
Q172 Mrs Ellman: What do you think
could be done to make people more aware of the impact of parking
on streetscape issues? What can change it?
Mr Franklin: Firstly, Lewisham
Council held a citizen's jury about a year ago when it took a
representative sample of people and sat them down and over several
days they went into a lot of detail about car use, and so on.
They measured people's views at the beginning of that process
and at the end and what they found was a significant shift of
about 20% in the hardening of people's attitudes towards greater
control of the use of the car because as people became more aware
of those issues and were sometimes for the very first time made
aware of some of the negatives of unimpeded car use people's attitudes
started to change. I think that shows that by that greater debate
it is possible for people to see both the positives and the negatives
of car use and become much more rational about it.
Q173 Mrs Ellman: Should parking policies
be included in the Transport Innovation Fund?
Mr Link: The guidance on the bids
for Transport Innovation Funds put what we are talking about,
i.e. ordinary parking controls and management, right at the bottom
of the pile in terms of the Government's view on what was necessary
for a successful bid. Any bids which relied upon traditional traffic
management parking techniques got nowhere near acceptance.
Q174 Mrs Ellman: So do you think
that should be changed?
Mr Link: I am not suggesting that
there is not a role for the Transport Innovation Fund and the
things it is promoting. I think my point was that we are in danger
of losing focus on what will be for the majority of local authorities
the technique they could use, and they are not getting sufficient
help at the moment in using it. We have mentioned signing several
times and making parking more acceptable to the public. One of
the top three, if not the top reason for people appealing is that
they do not understand the signs. Two years ago TRL produced a
report for DfT on how to improve signing and two years later we
are waiting to see whether it gets turned into new signing guidance.
It is well overdue. Most professionals cannot understand what
the signs mean!
Q175 Mrs Ellman: How widespread is
this problem about signage? Should it be looked at nationally?
Mr Adams: I think it is very confusing
for somebody who does not know what particular signs mean. As
Mr Link said, even for some professionals it is difficult. There
is so much variance and different types of signs. I think we need
to streamline it and make it far easier for the public to understand
in terms of where they go, from one local authority to the next.
A uniform approach is certainly needed and needed quickly.
Mr Franklin: I think they could
also help with the appearance of streets, too, because I think
this is a case where less is more. Less signage and less rules,
but actually a greater effort to make sure that everybody understands
what those rules are. So by having fewer signs our streets could
look better and we could make sure people understood those fewer
rules better than the plethora out there at the moment.
Q176 Mrs Ellman: Should pavement
parking be an offence across the UK?
Mr Adams: I think it is difficult
to have a general rule about pavement parking because you have
some streets which are old, Victorian streets where there is virtually
no parking if you do not park on the pavement. I do agree we should
minimise it where we possibly can.
Mr Franklin: The problem with
that is we cannot just look at the needs of the parked cars, we
also have to look at the needs of pedestrians too. In some cases
it may be that it is okay to park on the pavement because there
is enough room for pedestrians, but if it is a choice between
parking on the pavements because there is no room for parking
and blocking the pavements completely for pedestrians then I think
in terms of the transport hierarchy every time the pedestrians'
needs need to come first.
Q177 Mrs Ellman: How should that
Mr Franklin: I think it should
be almost like an opt-in situation rather than an opt-out situation.
So instead of in the rest of the country it is the case that there
can be zones where it is not allowed to park on the pavement but
they have to be very specifically identified, there should be
zones where it is specifically identified that you can park on
the pavement. But as a general rule, everybody should know that
you do not park on the pavement unless it is specifically allowed.
Q178 Mrs Ellman: Should there be
more parking capacity at rail stations?
Mr Link: If only, I think would
be the answer across the majority of the country. In most cases,
it is not physically possible or affordable and many rail station
car parks are full from early in the morning and this is preventing
more rail use off-peak, i.e. the fact that they are full.
Mr Elliott: But you also need
to back it up because lots of stations could be reached by bicycle,
on foot or by local bus services. Those should be preferable to
parking at the station. So you have got to actually provide those
sorts of sticks and carrots along the way so people choose the
best first and work down the hierarchy.
Mr Adams: I agree with what John
said in terms of the fact that you have to look at the interchanges
between the different modes of transport and I think probably
improve the interchange in terms of bus to train, etc. It is not
about one approach fits all, I think you have to look at where
the train stations are located, what usage there is in terms of
can they get there by bike and other forms of interchange so that
we can promote that instead of using the car just to get to the
Q179 Clive Efford: But there is an
issue about the home to mode of transport journey, is there not,
particularly for women and people perhaps with mobility problems?
We need to accommodate with rail head parking and those sorts
of issues. Is that not an issue which we ought to be considering
Mr Franklin: For I think probably
much smaller sums of money improving key walking routes would
do more in terms of increasing the accessibility of things like
railway stations than any amount of additional parking at railway
stations. The fact is that so many of those routes are poor in
terms of lighting, in terms of the short-cuts which could be made
in terms of making it easier for a much larger group of people
to access railway stations on foot.