A new right could allow local residents or local firms to raise-up a petition that will require a council review of the use of yellow lines and unfair parking charges, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced today (30 August 2014).
The Secretary of State believes the changes will give local people a direct and democratic say over yellow line road restrictions in their area and the power to challenge existing council parking policies. A minimum of 50 council tax payers’ signatures or at least 10% of the residents or businesses in the affected local areas is being proposed.
This new right will give local residents, a simple, fair and transparent mechanism for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, people with disabilities, shop keepers and local business men and women, to raise concerns about the placement of yellow lines.
Following a wider consultation on over-zealous parking the government will now amend statutory guidance to introduce a system that will mean a petition triggers a local authority review of any aspect of parking policy.
In response to a petition, local authorities will be required to review their parking policy in a specified location, and produce a report for consideration by councillors in an appropriate public council meeting. If needed, the government is ready to consider the case for entrenching in legislation.
This approach combines direct democracy (the right to petition and call a review) with representative democracy (elected councillors taking a decision, and then being held to account at the ballot box).
Eric Pickles said:
Too often yellow lines are imposed on neighbourhoods or the high street without fair consideration of the livelihood of residents, local shops or the availability of parking spaces. Now local people will have a direct and democratic right to trigger a formal council led review of road restrictions in their area.
Town centres need to allow for proper traffic flow, but incessant yellow lines, CCTV spy cars and trigger happy parking wardens make everyday life unbearable for drivers looking for somewhere to park when shopping locally.
This government is standing up for hard working people and tackling over-zealous parking enforcement practices and unfair parking charges that force people away from the high street and into out-of-town shopping centres or online.
A discussion paper published today proposes that the arrangements for responding to petitions should be determined locally. However, the government is proposing that local authorities should ensure their arrangements include:
- a public statement on how they will manage any challenges to their parking policies. This statement could cover how reviews will be carried out, how long they will take, public consultation requirements, and how the final decision will be taken and communicated following the review. The statement should also cover any circumstances where a petition will not be considered (e.g. vexatious petitioners, within a stated minimum period after a previous review in the same area)
- publication of the details of all petitions received, with clear information on what aspects of parking policy are being challenged, the timeline for reviewing the challenged policy and how local residents and businesses can engage in that review
- the report of the review, and any recommendations, are considered and voted on by councillors
- the organiser of the petition should be kept updated on progress, and notified when the report is due to be considered and the outcome of the challenge
- publish the outcome of all reviews
Any petition submitted must also include the following:
- a clear description of the geographical area covered by the petition (which could be a road, a series of roads, a polling district, a ward or indeed, the whole council area)
- a clear description of which aspects of parking policy are being challenged, with justification
- names, dates and addresses for all people and/or businesses signing the petition
- contact details for the organiser of the petition, who shall be the first point of contact for follow up questions, and for notification of progress
The Operational Guidance to local authorities on the Traffic Management Act 2004, states that, in appraising its local parking policy, an authority should take account of the:
- existing and projected levels of parking demand
- availability and pricing of on- and off-street parking
- justification for and accuracy of existing Traffic Regulation Orders
- accuracy and quality of traffic signs and road markings that restrict or permit parking
In June 2014 the government published a range of measures designed to help local shops, support drivers and give communities a greater say on parking policies include:
- make it illegal to use closed circuit television (CCTV) ‘spy cars’ alone to enforce on-street parking ending the plague of parking tickets by post
- introduce mandatory 10 minute ‘grace periods’ at the end of on-street paid for and free parking; councils and parking adjudicators, who rule on penalty charge notice appeals, would be obliged to follow the new statutory guidance; any breach would be deemed an illegal fine and trigger a refund
- trial a 25% discount for motorists who lose an appeal against a parking ticket at tribunal on the full price of their parking ticket
- change guidance so motorists parking at an out-of-order meter are not fined if there are no alternative ways to pay
- reform operational parking guidance so it is less heavy handed with motorists, prevents over-aggressive action by bailiffs, positively supports local shops and clearly reinforces the prohibition against parking being used to generate profit
- propose a widening of the powers of parking adjudicators. This could include, for example, measures to protect drivers where adjudicators have repeatedly identified a problem at a specific location, such as inadequate signage, and parking tickets have repeatedly been issued - in such circumstances, potential measures could see adjudicators allowed to direct an authority to stop issuing tickets or direct the authority to change the signage, or indeed both
- update guidance so the public know when they can be awarded costs at tribunals
- increase parking transparency so councils are required to publish how income from parking charges is being used, including a new statutory Transparency Code
- maintain a freeze on parking penalty charges for the remainder of this Parliament
Photo above by Ian Britton on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.