Select Committee on Transport Seventh Report


Pavement parking

256. Parking on the pavement is likely to cause a grave danger to pedestrians. In particular, it creates hazards for people with disabilities and visual impairments, older people, and those with prams or pushchairs.[211] It is also unsightly and reduces the tight management of the streets which is a key to preserving a high quality street environment.

257. In London it is an offence to park on a pavement unless signs indicate that it is specifically permitted. Throughout the rest of the country there is no national law that bans parking by cars and small vehicles on the pavement.[212] A council wishing to ban pavement parking in a specific area can use Traffic Regulation Orders to this effect.

258. 'Living Streets' pointed out that vehicles parked on the pavements are a particular obstacle to achieving an accessible transport system:

    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.[213]

259. The Department for Transport recognises that pavement parking may cause damage to the kerb, the pavement, or the services underneath.[214] Repairing such damage can be costly and local authorities may face claims for compensation for injuries received resulting from damaged or defective pavements.

260. A ban on pavement parking would benefit many people, including people with disabilities, yet the Department has shied away from recommending enforcement because of the scale of the problem. Mr Mike Talbot of the Department for Transport told us that the Department had "looked at this from time to time and the problem has always been that if you define no parking on the footway or the verge in all other circumstances except where signed, it would not be enforced."[215]

261. We accept that the problem of vehicles obstructing footpaths country-wide is a large one and a major effort would be required to enforce the law. But the 'do- nothing' response of the Department is no longer a credible option. To periodically examine what is widely accepted as a problem and then fail to take any positive measures is not the quality of response that the general public has a right to expect from the Department. Those local authorities that have adopted civil enforcement powers would be required to enforce a ban on pavement parking as they carried out their other enforcement duties. The police too should be involved in enforcement of this aspect of street management. With clear signage and after a period of intense enforcement, we expect that a pavement parking ban would become self-enforcing as the public become familiar with, and accept, the new rules.

262. The Government must grip the problem of pavement parking once and for all and ensure that it is outlawed throughout the country, and not just in London. Councils should have the option of an 'opt-out' of a national pavement parking ban where this is vital, rather than relying on the use of individual Traffic Regulation Orders on specific streets and local Acts to impose a ban. That such an initiative will initially require additional resources to enforce is no excuse for allowing some pavements to continue to be swamped by cars and made inaccessible to large numbers of pedestrians.

Road safety

263. Road safety is a central objective of parking regulations and enforcement. Illegal parking in unsuitable places can present a serious risk to road safety. Parking on pedestrian crossings, 'zig-zag' lines, and outside school and hospital entrances, directly compromises the safety of some of the most vulnerable road users. Parking at corners, junctions and bus stops can similarly cause havoc and compromise public safety. Such parking contraventions are extremely serious and any enforcement regime needs to address them firmly. Parking strategies and enforcement operations must prioritise the safety of all road users.

264. 'Living Streets' sees the impact of parking on road safety in the broader context of efforts to join up transport, planning, health, economic development and community strategy. The organisation suggests that, by adopting sound parking policies and good enforcement, neighbourhoods will be more attractive for walking and cycling.[216] The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment believes that, while people may want to park their cars directly outside their homes, they would generally be willing to make compromises when other benefits such as safe playing areas for children, and the provision of shops, services and public transport links in walking distance, are available.[217]

265. Our objective must be to enhance the overall quality of our streets. Viewing parking as an important tool to achieve this - which includes both safety and environmental aspects - will help increase the chances of success. This is not a question of imposing arbitrary rules on neighbourhoods. The benefits to all need to be spelled out, and then followed through with sound and consistent enforcement policies. Without real leadership from the Department and commitment from local authorities, this will not be achieved. We need a more active and coordinated approach from the Department on this issue than we have detected to date. A 'zero tolerance' approach must be adopted towards those who through thoughtlessness or wilfulness seek to reduce the quality of the street environment.

'Blue Badge' scheme

266. The 'Blue Badge' scheme provides a range of parking benefits for disabled people with severe walking difficulties, registered blind people, and people with severe upper limb disabilities who travel either as drivers or as passengers. The scheme operates throughout the UK and is administered by local authorities. The concessions apply only to on-street parking and include free use of parking meters and pay-and-display bays. Badge-holders may also be exempt from limits on parking times and can park for up to three hours on yellow lines (except where there is a ban on loading or unloading or other restrictions). Misuse of the 'Blue Badge' by any non-disabled person is an offence. The maximum penalty if someone is convicted is £1,000 plus any additional penalty for the related parking offence.

267. There is a serious problem with abuse of the 'Blue Badge' scheme in many areas. Liverpool City Council has recently undertaken a joint operation involving the council and the police to tackle abuse of the 'Blue Badge' scheme. The operation recovered over a thousand misused badges in 14 months.[218] The council also took part in a pilot project with the Audit Commission National Fraud Initiative in 2004/5 to tackle the continued use of 'Blue Badges' which belonged to deceased people but were still in circulation. Through a comparison of database information, the council identified a widespread problem. Concerted effort and joint operations, as in this case, can successfully tackle abuse of the 'Blue Badge' scheme.

268. Powers to inspect 'Blue Badges' were included in the Traffic Management Act 2004. There is no national database of 'Blue Badge' holders however which makes enforcement difficult. Furthermore, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) told us that because the 'Blue Badge' scheme applies to on-street parking only, the powers of inspection are also limited to on-street parking. In practice however many off-street car parks provide some spaces for 'Blue Badge' holders and DPTAC called for the inspection powers to be extended, and a Code of Practice to be issued to private operators to reduce misuse.

269. There is widespread misuse of the 'Blue Badge' scheme which provides a range of parking benefits for people with certain disabilities. We congratulate those, including Liverpool City Council, whose efforts have revealed this abuse. The 'Blue Badge' scheme is a valuable initiative which must be preserved. But it must continue on a much sounder administrative footing. A national database of 'Blue Badge' holders would assist with delivering concessions, would enable proper enforcement of the scheme, and reduce the misuse of 'Blue Badges'. We recommend that the Department establish a national database of 'Blue Badge' holders. In its reply to this report the Department should indicate what assessment it has made of the cost of providing such a database.

Parking space: capacity and demand

270. The RAC Foundation predicts that car ownership could increase by 45 per cent by 2030.[219] If car ownership continues to rise, parking space will fall increasingly short of demand.

271. There is currently a great deal of competition for the parking space available in many towns and cities. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea describes the pressure on residents' parking space as 'immense'.[220] This problem is common in many city council areas: 17 per cent of people in England find it difficult to park outside their home.[221] The RAC Foundation found that 29 per cent of motorists had given up their journeys and gone home on at least one occasion because they had been unable to find a parking space.[222] Parking space problems can cause community problems too. A survey of British households found that parking was the single most frequent cause of disputes between neighbours.[223]

Residents' permit schemes

272. Properly enforced residents' permit schemes can help to alleviate a mismatch between supply and demand.[224] We heard that some innovative measures can also be successful, for example parking schemes which give preference to people in car share clubs. Mr Mike Link of the Institution for Highways and Transportation listed other examples:

    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.[225]

273. Despite the severe competition for parking space, falling numbers of people are choosing to park their cars in their garage. Less than half of available garages in the UK are used to park vehicles overnight.[226] In addition, while people do value access to parking space highly there is resistance to paying for parking capacity.[227] Notwithstanding this, in areas where parking space is already outstripped by demand, having access to parking can add 8 per cent to the value of a property.[228]

274. We were astonished that less than half of available garages in the UK are used to park vehicles overnight. Discounting cars which are driven away from home at night and are parked legitimately elsewhere, many garages are clearly not being used for their proper purpose. Using garages would relieve on-street space pressures in local communities.

275. It will not be possible in all residential areas to meet the demand for parking. In these circumstances, resident permit schemes and waiting lists are important techniques local authorities can use to ration on-street parking and these should be pursued vigorously where there is a mismatch between capacity and demand. We also welcome the use of more innovative demand measures such as allowing car clubs priority parking.


276. Provision of parking capacity is determined by Planning Policy Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Government's guidance on parking provision is set out in PPG 13 'Transport', which is supplemented by specific guidance in relation to parking provision in housing developments in PPG 3 'Housing'. The Department for Transport explained the objective of the guidance:

277. According to PPG 3 'Housing', residential development should allow for significantly lower levels of off-street parking provision in areas of good public transport accessibility and where effective on-street parking controls exist or can be secured, such as town centres. Local car parking standards that result, on average, in development with more than 1.5 off-street car parking spaces per dwelling are unlikely to reflect the Government's emphasis on securing sustainable residential environments.

278. Research by Transport Research Laboratory in 1993 found that peoples' determination to own cars seems to outweigh all other considerations, including the difficulty of parking.[230] Even in areas where parking proved most difficult, the indications were that people still intended to buy more cars. Indeed, since the time of the research the number of private cars licensed in Great Britain has increased from 20,102,000 in 1993 to 25,754,000 in 2004.[231] The PPG 3 Implementation Study, 'Delivering Planning Policy for Housing', identified that PPG 3's approach to car parking was targeting car ownership, when it ought to target car usage, if sustainable transport and accessibility were the objectives.[232]

279. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment suggests that the policies of the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government need to tie more closely together if either are to succeed.[233] The Department for Transport told us that the Government is currently reviewing its policy on planning for residential car parking. In December 2005 a draft revised version of PPG 3 was published. This proposes a more flexible, evidence-based approach to parking levels. PPG 13 was last updated in 2001.[234]

280. We did not receive sufficient evidence to make specific recommendations about planning policies in relation to parking provision. Controlling the overall provision of parking spaces is however clearly an important component of traffic management and land-use policy. It is also a tool in meeting Departmental aims to promote sustainable transport and to reduce reliance on the private car, and it must be given full weight by the Government in its overall transport policy. The Department for Transport should consider whether it is time for the Government to evaluate the success of the guidance on parking provision (contained in document PPG 13) and to assess how well it has been implemented in practice.

Parking provision for 'Blue Badge' holders

281. Overall supply of on-street and off-street parking capacity determines the accessibility of any town or city centre for disabled people reliant on car use.[235] The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee told us:

    Meeting Government objectives for managing the growth in traffic would imply restricting the number of new parking places in our town and city centres and indeed reducing existing numbers. We would contend that ensuring adequate access by disabled people requires a careful consideration of the impact of such policies on disabled people.[236]

282. Local authorities must have regard to the needs of disabled people when planning parking provision. Customer satisfaction surveys with 'Blue Badge' holders should be undertaken to monitor how well provision meets requirements. Where significant changes to parking provision are proposed, access arrangements for people with disabilities must invariably receive full consideration.[237] We look to the Department for Transport to see that the interests of people with disabilities are upheld strongly in all aspects of parking policy at national and local levels.

211   Q159 Back

212   Parking a Heavy Goods Vehicle on a pavement is illegal under section 19 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. But a driver may do so for loading/unloading where this cannot be satisfactorily performed if it had not been so parked Back

213   Q159 Back

214   Department for Transport Traffic Advisory Leaflet 'Pavement Parking' Back

215   Q342 Back

216   Ev 51 Back

217   What home buyers want: attitudes and decision making among consumers, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, March 2005 Back

218   Roy Tunstall, Liverpool City Council, presentation to the British Parking Association Autumn Seminar 2005 18 October 2005.  Back

219   RAC Foundation 'Motoring towards 2050: Parking in transport policy (2004) page 4 Back

220   Ev 148 Back

221   RAC Foundation 'Motoring towards 2050: Parking in transport policy (2004) Back

222   RAC Foundation 'Motoring Towards 2050: Parking in Transport Policy (2004) Back

223   Ev 44 Back

224   Ev 148 Back

225   Q200 Back

226   RAC Foundation 'Motoring Towards 2050: Parking in transport policy' (2004) page 14. The research found that although 53 per cent of households had access to a garage, only 24 per cent parked their car in their garage over night. Back

227   RAC Foundation 'Motoring Towards 2050: Parking in transport policy' (2004) found that 80 per cent of people would pay no more than £2 per day to park at work, and half of those would not be prepared to pay anything at all. Back

228   RAC Foundation 'Motoring Towards 2050: Parking in transport policy' (2004) page 8 Back

229   Ev 108 Back

230   Ev 108 Back

231   Department for Transport & National Statistics (2005) Transport Statistics Great Britain 2005 Edition Table 9.1 page 156 Back

232   ODPM 'Delivering Planning Policy for Housing' July 2003 Back

233   Ev 183 Back

234   Ev 145 Back

235   Ev 159 Back

236   Ev 159 Back

237   See also Joint Committee on the Draft Disability Discrimination Bill - First Report 2004 (HL 82-I/HC 352-I) Back

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