Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 199)

WEDNESDAY 7 DECEMBER 2005

MR MIKE LINK, MR JOHN ELLIOTT, MR SEAMUS ADAMS AND MR TOM FRANKLIN

  Q180  Clive Efford: Is that the reality though? I can think of stations in my constituency with the trains late at night, the last few trains, with few people getting off and if you were a woman on your own, whether it was lit up or not you would feel vulnerable.

  Mr Franklin: The trouble is, it is about an ever-decreasing circle because the more people who do not use public space on foot, the less safe it becomes. So what we need to do is increase the number of people who feel safe in the public space and use it because we feel safer when there are other people around. So by in a sense turning that into a virtual circle we can make streets far safer at night by actually doing things like making sure there are clear routes, good signage, that the lighting is good and that it does not just follow the carriageway, it actually follows the walking routes. Sometimes that can be off the direct route of the carriageway. Things like that will encourage people to use the streets at night and therefore people will safer.

  Q181  Clive Efford: That requires a partnership between the local authority and the transport provider, does it not? Do you think there is enough work done around that? That is a very compelling argument you have just made.

  Mr Franklin: I think in this whole area there is not enough attention being placed on this because there is so much attention being placed on the needs of traffic first, motorised traffic. Despite all the talk of the transport hierarchy with pedestrians at the top, the reality is that they are just getting scraps in terms of the attention and I think there needs to be much more focus being placed not just by local authorities but by the bus operators, the train operators, and so on. So many bus stops are in a terrible state and the routes to those bus stops are in a terrible state. If we want to encourage people to use public transport, we should not just look at the bus, we should look at the routes to the bus stops as well.

  Q182  Chairman: The bus companies do complain bitterly about on-street parking, for example, impeding them. Have you any solutions for them?

  Mr Adams: We work with the bus transport network very closely to look at the hot-spots—

  Q183  Chairman: Mr Adams, I am sorry I am going to sound like my friend Mr Martlew, but there is a different situation in London. You can talk to the bus companies in a completely different way because those of us who are outside London who do not have the same contractual relationship find time after time the companies do what they like. They have very interesting ideas of traffic planning like not going to the main station because they want to turn off a quarter of a mile earlier, which is a problem I have had, and not going down the most heavily domesticated roads because they say there are too many cars and they cannot drive down there. Their interpretation of traffic planning, Mr Adams, outside this capital city is not necessarily the one you recognise!

  Mr Elliott: I think one of the problems is the 1984 Act from the local authority point of view made public transport planning outside London extremely difficult, but that is another subject which you may be having another inquiry about.

  Q184  Chairman: Yes. I think, Mr Elliott, if we manage to go through Buchanan and the 1984 Act we shall be here for some time!

  Mr Link: Chairman, there are, nevertheless, good examples outside London where that is happening, so it is possible.

  Q185  Chairman: If I did not believe there was anywhere in the United Kingdom that was capable of solving this problem, Mr Link, I would not be sitting in this chair. The ALG witness did suggest signage was completely regulated by the Government, but you are all suggesting there is a slight scope for improved clarity. Have local councils got that choice and discretion?

  Mr Link: I think the point was that the current signing guidelines are not helpful. They are not clear, certainly to large numbers of the public, and a revision to the signing regulations is well-overdue. The evidence to move forward has been with the Department for Transport for some years.

  Q186  Chairman: Since there has been decriminalised parking the number of reported parking contraventions has increased very significantly. Is that a trend which ought to worry us?

  Mr Elliott: I think that when parking enforcement is first decriminalised because it has been so badly done before the number of penalties will increase very markedly. I said earlier a third of a million people were parking illegally in central London every day before decriminalisation and there were one and a half million tickets issued in a year, so it was scratching the surface then, so it is a massive improvement.

  Q187  Chairman: You do suggest in your memorandum particularly that performance indicators should be restricted to levels of compliance rather than numbers of tickets issued, do you not?

  Mr Elliott: If you can measure compliance well. It is what we are all trying to achieve.

  Q188  Chairman: How do you do that?

  Mr Elliott: Some authorities have been doing it. You can monitor parking spaces continually or monitor illegal parking continuously in between the times the attendant comes around and see how many extra offences are committed. One central London authority—again it is the central London authorities which have the resources, I am afraid, to do these sorts of things—found that only one in 10 of offenders do actually get tickets, and that is a very well-managed authority with lots of resources in central London.

  Q189  Chairman: So do you think that the actual count levels of penalties for parking infringements are fair?

  Mr Adams: I think there could be a change, a variable change, i.e. where cars are overstaying on a meter, depending on a car which is parked on a double yellow line. It is a different infringement and I think the penalties should be higher for those cars parked on the double yellow line.

  Q190  Chairman: So where should you permit clamping and removal of vehicles?

  Mr Adams: It is the ultimate deterrent, the removal, and certainly again where you have built-up cities you have persistent evaders and you will need to remove those vehicles. It is difficult sometimes to remove all the vehicles or get to the vehicles, so therefore you need to clamp them and I think it is important you have that end deterrent.

  Q191  Chairman: Yes. We were told originally that the American scheme regarded this as a progression. You would not say so? Because we are asking very specifically what numbers and in what circumstances would you expect clamping to be part of your weaponry?

  Mr Adams: I think it is difficult to put an exact number on it, but I think it is important that you have it as a back-up system in terms of supporting the general enforcement of ticketing.

  Q192  Chairman: Do you have any idea at all how many people are persistent offenders, any rough %age? Mr Elliott, do you have this in your weaponry?

  Mr Elliott: I have done a persistent evader study. I cannot quite remember, but I feel it was something like 10% of the tickets.

  Q193  Chairman: You could perhaps confirm that to us in writing when you have had time to dig it up?

  Mr Elliott: I will see if I can find it. I cannot guarantee that.

  Q194  Chairman: You are quite clear that you think councils could in fact do a lot more as far as the signage is concerned, is that so? Mr Franklin, you want it all cleaned up, do you not, in your streetscape. So how should we really accommodate increased demand for parking? We have been talking about Victorian streets. I can give you a classic example because my town was built at the same time as Mr Martlew's. Victorian houses did not expect people to be in love with combustion engines, which was not a problem then, and people are consistently complaining that having bought the terraced houses they cannot park outside the door. Well, no, but then what do we do about that, say "Tough"?

  Mr Franklin: I think sometimes we are going to have to say "Tough."

  Q195  Chairman: You have never been a councillor, I take it?

  Mr Franklin: I am a councillor, actually. I know very well. We cannot do a sort of predict and provide on this, because the proportion of people who own cars and the number of households with two cars is going up all the time.

  Q196  Chairman: So are you going to put a limit on the numbers of vehicles in a particular street, or are you going to say, "No one can park in this street"?

  Mr Franklin: I think it is about limits, the space which is available there and looking at what other needs are there too. For instance, in the home zone area parking is allowed but it is allowed with other activities going on too, including spaces for children to play, etc. Parking can actually be used in those sorts of circumstances in a way which enhances the street environment and slows the traffic down.

  Q197  Chairman: I have to tell you it is known to most elected members as being the one cause of enormous friction. Now we have started you off! Yes, Mr Elliott?

  Mr Elliott: I recognise that. I have lived with that for a long time and I have worked for central London and outside. It is again a question of why, because people think, "I've got a right to park on the street."

  Q198  Chairman: Oh, they think they own the street, yes.

  Mr Elliott: The street and land is a terribly expensive commodity in the centre of cities and if we actually charged a fair price for it an awful lot of people would sell their cars now.

  Q199  Chairman: Are you abrogating that, Mr Elliott?

  Mr Elliott: No, I will defer to the politicians to market that product!


 
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