Select Committee on Transport Seventh Report


239. Effective parking management is important to communities' economic, environmental and social well being. Parking policies form an integral part of overall transport management. Priority for parking space should reflect the hierarchy of road user needs for which each local authority should be planning.

240. The Department for Transport's 1995 guidance on decriminalised parking stated that local authorities should develop parking policies which are consistent with and contribute to their overall transport policies, having regard to:

  • The need to maintain and, where possible, improve the flow of traffic
  • The need to improve safety and environmental conditions
  • Improving the quality and accessibility of public transport, including discouraging car use where road conditions and public transport facilities justify it
  • The needs of local residents, shops and other businesses, including drivers making deliveries or collecting goods
  • The particular needs of people with disabilities, bearing in mind that in some cases people with disabilities are unable to use public transport and are entirely dependent on the use of a car
  • The need for coach parking, especially in areas where there is a high concentration of tourist attractions and hotels, and for parking facilities for motorcyclists; and
  • The needs of pedal cyclists, especially where parking controls are being deployed to discourage car use and where an increase in cycling may result or is being actively encouraged.[194]

Making the links between parking policies and wider transport policies

241. The Institution of Highways and Transportation and the Technical Advisers Group told us that the full potential of parking policy to deliver important traffic management objectives is not currently being realised.[195] Although parking is a key element of transport strategy, it is all too often seen as a financial issue rather as one contributing to the environment, economy and safety of a community.[196] Mr Mike Link of the Institution of Highways and Transportation thought that stronger links should be made between parking policies and traffic management:

    …there is very little emphasis placed upon it by Government through the Department for Transport… 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.[197]

242. Parking is neither primarily a source of finance to the local authority, nor is it an 'add on' to transport management. Parking management has the potential to help to enable us to manage our road system with sophistication, balancing a complex number of demands, reducing urban stresses, and mitigating congestion and the intrusion of traffic for local residents. But this vision is not yet being realised widely. In order to maximise the positive impact of parking policies and enforcement regimes on a council's transport objectives, it is essential that parking be properly planned and integrated into a comprehensive, clear, and local transport policy framework.


243. As far back as the Buchanan Report in 1963, parking measures had been identified for their immediate potential to influence traffic, as opposed to road pricing systems which require technological development and testing.[198] The Technical Advisers Group described parking policies, backed by good enforcement, as "an exceptionally powerful tool"[199] in contributing to wider transport objectives.

244. Yet councils have been slow to implement some measures. For example, local authorities have been reluctant to introduce workplace parking levies, despite having the power to do so since the introduction of the Transport Act 2000.[200] A workplace parking levy scheme would charge employers a levy according to the number of parking spaces for workers and visitors they provide. To our knowledge, Nottingham City Council alone is currently considering the introduction of a Workplace Parking Levy.[201] Parking policies have for decades been one of the few immediately available and proven ways of controlling traffic and influencing travel behaviour. The gap in implementation of workplace parking levies by local authorities is disappointing.

245. The Transport Innovation Fund was announced in the 2004 transport White Paper as a £2 billion means of supporting innovative transport packages which manage travel demand, encourage modal shift, raise new funding locally for transport, and benefit national productivity.[202] There is an opportunity within the arrangements for the Fund for the Department for Transport to support councils seeking to implement more radical parking measures.

246. Witnesses indicated that parking policies were unlikely to be successful in securing this funding as the priority was on road pricing schemes.[203] The Department for Transport confirmed that this was the case, and that none of the seven successful bids to date had been based exclusively on parking strategies.[204] The Department stated however that parking controls and the workplace parking levy would be included in some of the successful bids.[205] We hope that parking schemes will benefit from Transport Innovation Fund resources. Such schemes may be less novel than road pricing schemes, but their potential to yield positive traffic management results immediately means that they should be encouraged.

Guidance for local transport planning

Guidance on second edition Local Transport Plans

247. The second edition of Department for Transport guidance on drafting Local Transport Plans (LTPs) is a missed opportunity to raise the profile of parking. We heard that the criteria for parking strategies in the LTPs has been weakened since the first round of LTPs.[206] For example, the new guidance refers only to having parking policies to promote traffic management and reduce congestion, but it does not set out any prescriptive criteria. This reflects a general move towards flexibility for local authorities in setting their own priorities and identifying their own solutions.

248. The Department explained that the guidance for the second round LTPs had been changed in light of increased transport planning experience in authorities, and contained a new focus on four key policy priorities. The Department stressed to us that parking "is very much a local issue".[207] This may be so in essence, but our report has already set out major flaws in the parking regime country-wide that can only be tackled through vigorous action by central Government.

Mayor of London's guidance on parking strategies

249. The Department for Transport's somewhat arms length approach provides a stark contrast to that embodied in the guidance issued by the Mayor of London.

250. The London boroughs must submit Local Implementation Plans which reflect fully the objectives of the over-arching London Transport Strategy. The guidance on Local Implementation Plans is prescriptive in setting out what should be included in a 'Parking and Enforcement Plan'.[208] There are two and a half pages containing the criteria which boroughs must fulfil. The guidance requires a review of signage at all locations, a review of parking and loading restrictions to "help reinforce London's road hierarchy and ensure that they reflect changing policy priorities", and co-ordination between boroughs to complement traffic management measures.

251. On London's strategic road network, Transport for London (TfL) has taken a strategic approach to deciding which locations would benefit from extra enforcement. An 'enforcement demand matrix' was constructed to identify which locations on the network require higher levels of enforcement. TfL explained: "The matrix is based on TfL's analysis on priority areas… including traffic congestion hotspots and roads where bus services are impeded by illegal parking."[209] Local authorities should concentrate enforcement activity on congestion hotspots, bus routes, and locations where offences increase road risk. Transport for London achieves this through an 'enforcement demand matrix'. We recommend other authorities examine this approach.


252. The Institution of Highways and Transportation has developed 'good practice guidance' on parking policies.[210] It recommends that all local authorities should develop a parking strategy that meets the following criteria:

  • consistent with national and regional guidance and objectives
  • well rooted in relevant local policies and contributes to wider community objectives, both transport and non-transport related
  • reflects and contributes to the vision of the area; responds to local issues and public concerns with clear objectives
  • takes account and complements related strategies such as economic regeneration, crime prevention, streetscape enhancement,
  • consistent and technically robust
  • based upon sound consultation and wide stakeholder involvement; has strong political and local support
  • has a realistic implementation timetable; includes a business plan that enables parking costs to be covered by revenues; and
  • includes a framework to monitor performance and achievement.

These seem to us to be a sound basis on which to plan a successful parking regime.

253. We recommend to all local authorities, and in particular to those considering the introduction of a civil enforcement scheme, the use of the Institution of Highways and Transportation's 'best practice guidelines'. These can be used either to develop parking strategies for inclusion in local authorities' Local Transport Plans, or as 'stand alone' parking strategies.

254. We are concerned that present guidance from the Department for Transport on Local Transport Plans has effectively down-graded the priority of parking schemes. Future Local Transport Plan guidance from central Government should make it clear there is a need for detailed parking plans. It is not enough for the Department for Transport to rely on general statements.

255. The Plans should include testing performance indicators for parking which focus on actual compliance and high quality administration of parking enforcement, as recommended earlier in this report. It is not appropriate, given the creaking and inconsistent parking arrangements to be found throughout the country, that the Department appears to be slackening its grip instead of demanding higher standards, enhanced consistency, and more uniformity in this area.

194   The Department of Transport Local Authority Circular 1/95: Guidance on decriminalised parking enforcement outside London, page 7, para 3.2 Back

195   Q142, Ev 47 Back

196   Ev 44, Q17 Back

197   Q145 Back

198   Ev 47 Back

199   Ev 47 Back

200   Ev 145 Back

201   Under the Transport Act 2000 local authorities have the power to introduce a levy on parking at the workplace. Back

202   Department for Transport White Paper 'The Future of Transport' (July 2004). The Fund is forecast to grow from £290 million in 2008/09 to over £2 billion by 2014/15. Back

203   Q145, Q171 - Q174 Back

204   Ev 133 Back

205   Ev 133 Back

206   Q142-144 Back

207   Ev 108 Back

208   Transport for London LIP Guidance 2004 Appendix E Local Authority parking and enforcement plans, pages 131-133.  Back

209   Ev 163 Back

210   The Institution of Highways and Transportation (2005) 'Parking Strategies and Management'. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 22 June 2006