Pavement parking Contents

2Legislation and enforcement

4.Given current levels of car ownership, pavement parking is inevitable in some areas. In many towns and cities in England housing is Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian. These houses were built before the advent of mass motoring, do not benefit from off-street parking spaces, and since they were built many have been converted into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). As a result there are often not enough parking spaces for the people that live in them, whether residents’ parking schemes are in place or not.4 This is not only a problem with older housing: one in twenty of the submissions we received highlighted that new developments do not have enough parking space for the people who live there and their visitors—in some cases this is the result of deliberate planning decisions to discourage car use.

5.The extent and impact of pavement parking vary from place to place. There are many reasons for this, for example:

Parking enforcement

6.Local authorities and the police have different responsibilities for the enforcement of parking offences, as outlined in chapter 1. Most parking offences in England were decriminalised in 1995, when local authorities were given powers to implement, manage and enforce parking restrictions, for example yellow lines and clearways. Around 95% of local authorities6 have taken up civil enforcement powers.7 In those areas where they have not, parking enforcement remains a criminal matter for the police to enforce. In 2008 the law was substantially updated and amended8 and is now generally called civil parking enforcement (CPE). It is enforced by Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) who are employed by the local authority.

7.Parking on double yellow lines—on-street parking9—and parking in contravention of a scheme—residents’ parking—are civil offences for which local authorities can issue a penalty. Where these schemes or markings are in place, someone parking on a double yellow line and with any wheels on the pavement, can be issued a penalty by a CEO for the on-street offence. The penalty will be issued for parking on yellow lines, not parking on the pavement. The police can issue fines to people who are seen to drive onto a pavement or if parking is obstructing the highway.10 Where there are no on-street restrictions, only the police can issue fines for the criminal offence of obstruction, including on the pavement.11

8.In 2016, the then Transport Committee noted in their report on road traffic law enforcement12 that roads police numbers had been falling for years. As a result, there are only limited numbers of officers available to spot illegal obstructive pavement parking and issue fines. Traffic wardens—who used to assist the police in this work—were abolished in England and Wales from 1 December 2018.13 PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) are now able to use police powers to enforce the offence of obstruction, explained further in chapter 4 below.

9.It is not always clear to the public, motorists and sometimes police and local authorities who is responsible for enforcing which offence. Some local authorities14 have a memorandum of understanding with their local police about enforcement policy to make it clear which offences should be issued a penalty—by the council—or a fine—by the police.

Pavement parking and Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

10.Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) are the only way local highway authorities—county and unitary councils in England—can ban pavement parking in specific areas. TROs are used to tackle congestion, manage traffic flows and implement parking restrictions.15 There are three different types of TRO:

11.Commonly a TRO is made to introduce residents’ parking schemes, controlled parking zones or changes to on-street parking, for example yellow lines. These have an indirect effect on the enforcement of restrictions on pavement parking. Due to the cost of a local authority putting a TRO in place very few TROs are made to solely address pavement parking.

Engineering measures

12.Engineering measures—such as railings, plant pots of bike racks—can be used to stop people parking on pavements. However, these solutions may not always be appropriate or feasible.16 They can add to street clutter and negatively impact those with visual or mobility impairments. The Government’s 1993 traffic advisory leaflet on pavement parking encourages the use of engineering measures to stop pavement parking.17 This conflicts with the desire of successive Governments to minimise street clutter.18 Any local authority considering engineering measures to inhibit pavement parking must judge whether any measure would create as much of a physical barrier for those with visual or mobility impairments as the vehicles parked on the pavement.

Legislation and Government action

13.In 2015, Simon Hoare MP introduced the Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill.19 At the end of the Second Reading debate in December 2015 Mr Hoare withdrew the Bill after securing from the then Minister, Andrew Jones MP, a commitment to convene a roundtable in 2016 to discuss pavement parking and “examine more closely the legal and financial implications of an alternative regime, and the likely impacts on local authorities”.20 The roundtable took place in March 2016,21 during which the time and cost for putting TROs in place was identified as a major factor affecting the enforcement of restrictions on pavement parking. The then Minister said that he was “considering how best to address the general improvement of the TRO-making process”.22

14.In April 2017 Andrew Jones said that he planned “to launch a survey in Summer 2017 in order to gather evidence about the current situation, the costs and timescales for processing TROs, and information about options for change”.23 The survey was put back to autumn 2017.24 Anthony Ferguson, Deputy Director of Traffic and Technology at the Department for Transport told us that the survey was ultimately “absorbed into a different piece of work”:

It evolved into something different, which was a piece of work we did looking at TROs as part of a discovery project around what data is held by local authorities. TROs are potentially a very fertile source of data and information about the road environment. The survey was picked up in that project, which ran for three months from the very end of 2017 to the beginning of 2018. That piece of work, which was a very extensive discovery project, led to the recent TRO discovery project that we launched at the end of last year and is just coming to a conclusion. That is what happened. It evolved into something slightly larger.25

15.In March 2018 the Minister who succeeded Andrew Jones, Jesse Norman MP, said that the Department for Transport had been considering the scope for improving the TRO process and as a result was:

… undertaking a broader piece of work to gather evidence on the issue of pavement parking including how it is addressed in current regulation. We expect to be able to draw conclusions later this year.26

However, by November 2018 the Government’s position remained that it was “in the process of gathering evidence on the problems posed by vehicles parking on pavements, the effectiveness of current regulation, and the case for change”.27 Jesse Norman said that the Department for Transport had held meetings with a range of stakeholders, including accessibility campaigners, local authority managers, and motoring associations, with the intention of completing this evidence gathering by the end of 2018.28

16.Most recently, on 15 April 2019 the then Minister said that the Department for Transport was still “considering the findings of its internal review on the issue of pavement parking, and will be announcing a decision in the coming months”.29 The TRO discovery project—funded by the Department for Transport, and that is feeding into the Department’s internal review—reported to the Department on 30 August 2019.30

Situation elsewhere in Great Britain


17.Since 1974 there has been a general ban on pavement parking in London.31 A London highway authority—a London Borough Council or Transport for London—may suspend the pavement parking ban in specific circumstances and for specific areas of road by passing a resolution32 or issuing a notice.

18.Spencer Palmer, Director of Transport and Mobility at London Councils, told us that exemptions from the pavement parking ban in London do not require the use of TROs:

For exemptions to the footway parking ban in London, there is a more informal process. There has to be a resolution of the council, […] but there will be a more informal consultation process [than a TRO] to propose a series of exemptions in a particular street or streets and seek residents’ views.33

19.Exemptions from the London pavement parking ban do not require advertising in a print newspaper, though typically a highway authority will take other steps to raise public awareness. Spencer Palmer from London Councils told us:

Although you are not obligated to advertise in a local paper, as you do for other traffic orders, typically you would write to every resident, business and premises in the street concerned. You might want to put up street notices as well, to pick up people who use the street but do not necessarily live or work there …34

The TRO process is still followed in London for other restrictions, but not for exemptions from the pavement parking ban.35


20.The Scotland Act 201636 devolved competence over on-street parking to the Scottish Parliament.37 Part 4 of the Transport (Scotland) Bill,38 currently going through the Scottish Parliament, includes a clause that would ban pavement parking across Scotland. The Bill completed Stage 2 on 26 June 2019. The ban would apply to any stationary vehicle with one or more of its wheels (or part of them) on the pavement. This includes when the engine is running, or the driver is present. The Bill also provides for exemptions from the national ban, which will be set out in Directions by Scottish Ministers.39 Any local authority seeking to apply an exemption would be required to erect road signs indicating that a footway was the subject of an exemption order.40


21.The legal position regarding pavement parking in Wales is unclear.41 The competencies covering this have not been tested. The National Assembly for Wales Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee report; Post Legislative Scrutiny of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013,42 recommended that the Welsh Government work regionally with police and local authorities to agree innovative ways to tackle pavement parking, including changing driver behaviour and raising awareness of its impacts. The Welsh Government accepted this in principle.43 On 4 July 2019 at the Active Travel conference in Cardiff the Deputy First Minister announced that the Welsh Government intends to convene an expert group to explore ways of clamping down more widely on illegal parking, including pavement parking, across Wales.44

4 Kevin Harper (PPA0210), Nichola Harrison (PPA0270)

5 The position in Northern Ireland is the same as that in England outside London, for more information see: NI Direct, Parking enforcement [accessed 27 August 2019].

7 HC Deb, 4 December 2015, col 654 Commons Chamber

8 By the Traffic Management Act 2004, Part 6. The secondary legislation came into force on 31 March 2008.

9 Yellow lines are for the whole of the highway and include the pavement.

10 This includes pavements. For more details please see the House of Commons Library note, Pavement and on-street parking in England chapter 2.

11 There are a number of statutes and regulations that allow proceedings to be brought for obstructing the highway. For more details please see the House of Commons Library note, Pavement and on-street parking in England chapter 2.

12 Transport Committee, Second report of the session 2015–16, Road Traffic Law Enforcement, HC518

13 This was as a result of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, section 46.

14 Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council (PPA0353), Devon County Council (PPA0234), City of York Council (PPA0182)

15 These can be made under Parts I and IV of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

16 Department for Transport (PPA0233), para 37

17 These are outlined in Traffic Advisory Leaflet 4/93, pavement parking, December 1993.

18 PQ 59474 on Road Signs and Markings, 13 January 2017; Manual for Streets 1 provides advice on reducing clutter, see: Department for Transport, Manual for Streets 1, 29 March 2007, page 58, paragraph 5.10.

19 Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill [Bill 16 (2015–16)]. This was a Private Member’s Bill, which provided a framework for local authorities in England and Wales to consult on and subsequently to ban pavement parking across wide areas, subject to certain exemptions to be set out by the Secretary of State in secondary legislation and guidance.

20 HC Deb, 4 December 2015, cols 659–60

21 PQ 37550 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 19 May 2016

22 PQ 49804 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 26 October 2016

23 PQ 71396 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 24 April 2017

24 PQ 4827 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 20 July 2017

26 PQ 133316 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 26 March 2018

27 PQ 191412 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 19 November 2018

28 PQ 242828 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 15 April 2019

29 PQ 242828 on Parking: Pedestrian Areas, 15 April 2019

30 GeoPlace, TRO discovery Summary report, 30 August 2019

31 Provided for under the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974, section 15.

32 For a resolution to be passed or a notice to be issued the highway authority must: “take such steps as are necessary to secure the placing on or near the road or footpath, or the part thereof, to which the resolution or notice relates of such traffic signs in such position as they consider requisite”. Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974, section 15, subsections (5) and (6).

36 Scotland Act 2016, Section 43

37 This followed years of confusion and debate; for full details see: Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), Transport (Scotland) Bill: Pavement Parking and Double Parking, 30 October 2018, page 8.

38 Transport (Scotland) Bill [Scottish Parliament]

39 Not yet published

41 Wales Act 2017 Schedule 7 does not go into detail.

42 Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee [Welsh Assembly], Post Legislative Scrutiny of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, June 2018

43 Government response to Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee [Welsh Assembly], Post Legislative Scrutiny of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, June 2018, page 10

Published: 9 September 2019