Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200 - 211)

WEDNESDAY 7 DECEMBER 2005

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

  Q200  Chairman: Yes. I think some of us know our own limitations. Mr Link?

  Mr Link: Just to add to those comments, there are residents' parking zones where numbers are limited and where in many cases residents do nevertheless find that a fair system. People moving into the area might know that they need to go onto a waiting list. There might be a differential price for first and subsequent permits. Initially permits are issued one per household, and so on, so there are ways of managing demand but that is all they are. But they are in many cases respected by the residents.

  Mr Franklin: I think there is a silent voice as well, those people who do not own cars or who rely on walking, and so on. Very often elected councillors do not hear those voices so loudly because it is always the people who in a sense feel they are suffering who are shouting the loudest.

  Q201  Chairman: It is not unconnected with the fact that most members of the Press are deeply wedded to their combustion engine. So tell me, is the planning policy guidance absolutely appropriate? Do we need changes? Is there anything else which ought to be included or are you saying it is perfectly all right, it is just the way it is administered and the difficulties which arise because councils do not apply it consistently? Is that what you are saying?

  Mr Franklin: I think it needs a greater subsidy. I think the trouble with the whole thing, for instance, about density and the link between density and parking is that it is very broad. There probably needs to be scope for different types of schemes. I think in some schemes you need more parking, in other schemes you need less parking, and because it is talking about an overall ratio it does not necessarily reflect those sorts of differences. We also think that with new schemes also you do have to look at that whole package, which is about how walkable neighbourhoods are and are there local facilities within that crucial 15 minute walk which makes a difference as to whether people use their cars for those short journeys or whether they walk for those short journeys.

  Q202  Chairman: If they can, of course, Mr Franklin. We must not produce policies which totally ignore the needs of people who cannot do a 15 minute walk, must we?

  Mr Franklin: No, that is true.

  Q203  Chairman: It is not use getting the cars off the pavements so that they can walk down the pavement if at the end of it they cannot breathe, is it, really?

  Mr Franklin: No, that is true, but in terms of people who cannot walk so far there are all sorts of things which can be done in terms of making it easier for people. Firstly, things like making sure there is a network of places for people to sit, to rest along the route.

  Q204  Chairman: Yes. At that rate it would take a little time to get to the station, would it not, if we were resting at the end of every road?

  Mr Franklin: It could do.

  Q205  Chairman: Some of us might give that impression, but we try hard! What about new technology? Is it going to solve all the problems of parking pavement facilities?

  Mr Adams: I think there is new technology which has helped in terms of public opinion, in terms of the way a parking ticket is issued. I know a lot of authorities now when they issue a ticket have photographic evidence with the ticket, so that has helped public confidence, i.e. if they appeal they can see if they have photographic evidence backing that up. Cctv has helped that in terms of technology. They can view the evidence tape in terms of that. Also, in terms of traffic orders there is now software which is able to manage the traffic order so that you update it and you can have a whole filing record of it. That is becoming more transparent. I think authorities are becoming more transparent in terms of how they operate and I think new technology has helped that immensely along the way.

  Q206  Chairman: Can I ask you, Mr Link, has the Institution at local government level of the GLA ever made the slightest attempt to talk? I know it is difficult given some of the links, but have you ever as an institution approached the local authorities as a joint institution and asked to discuss their implementation of traffic management plans?

  Mr Link: Not to my knowledge.

  Q207  Chairman: So would the normal route be that you would make representations and you would expect the people with whom you deal to make representations to the Government? Forgive me, but I really have read that report which you have got there. I think you should announce the title, by the way.

  Mr Link: It is the Institution of Highways and Transportation Parking Strategies and Management Guidelines.

  Q208  Chairman: Thank you. It is very noticeable to me that it seems to contain a sort of distillation of sensible policies, but if that is not specifically drawn to the attention of local authorities—we are saying here consistently this afternoon there is no consistency. The one thing which is consistent is that they are inconsistent?

  Mr Link: Yes, and that is recognised in the guidelines and in putting it together it was extraordinarily difficult to make it generally applicable. In so many cases what might be general guidance was splitting down into a whole myriad of circumstances of different government arrangements, London, two-tier, etc.

  Q209  Chairman: Mr Elliott, what about you? You have got all that expertise. What do you do with it?

  Mr Elliott: An awful lot of us in local government are members of the Institute of Highways and Transportation, so we get it and in fact they built it probably from a lot of local government—

  Q210  Chairman: I understand that, but it is actually a simpler point I am making. There is no point in the experts in traffic management coming and consistently saying to a committee such as this one in the House of Commons, "Government must do this," if you are not at the same time looking at the traffic management schemes right the way across local authorities. It is local authorities who will have to use your expertise. What consistent approaches do you make, all of you, to ensure that is the case?

  Mr Elliott: I think we do need to do some work in that area anyway.

  Q211  Chairman: Well, you can go away, Mr Elliott, and come back with a précis of your last report.

  Mr Franklin: The only thing we can say is that through out own organisation we have got a network of branches across the country and what we try to do is spread our expertise in terms of what pedestrians and users need and make sure that our branches are wherever possible campaigning within their local authority for those changes.

  Chairman: With that small nag, can I say thank you to you all. It has been really very instructive and very helpful. Thank you.





 
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