Pavement parking along Mill Road is a menace, especially to people with disabilities (physical, visual, auditory or hidden) and to young children. It is also wrecking Mill Road’s pavements, which were not designed to carry vehicular traffic.
Many drivers feel entitled to park on Mill Road’s pavements. Indeed many drive aggressively onto the footway, honking their horn for you to move out of the way.
But isn’t it illegal?
At the present time, outside of Greater London, parking on the footway is not unlawful. But driving on the pavement is. Spotted the obvious logical flaw? Let’s see what the Highway Code says…
You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs. [Highway Code, updated 29th January 2022, Rule 224]
Only pedestrians may use the pavement. Pedestrians include wheelchair and mobility scooter users. [Highway Code, updated 29th January 2022, Rule H2]
‘MUST NOT, should not’… What’s the difference?
Many Highway Code rules are legal requirements, identified by the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. Other Highway Code rules (with advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’) may be used in evidence, in court. See Wording of The Highway Code. You can view/download the latest update of the Highway Code (PDF, free) here.
It’s not just Mill Road, though is it?
Absolutely. Take a look around the corner along East Road. Then check out the verges of Barnwell Road and Whitehill Road when Cambridge United are playing at the Abbey Stadium. As well as commenting below, why not get in touch with Living Streets Cambridge who are working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and CamSight to tackle the problem of pavement parking in Cambridge. Check out their rogues’ gallery and/or email the group.
Can’t the police do anything?
Pavement parking, in Cambridge, is not unlawful, and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have suffered over a decade of financial cutbacks.
But Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over eleven years.
What? Eleven years of council inaction! Really?
Councils with civil parking enforcement powers (including Cambridgeshire County Council) were given ‘special authorisation’ in February 2011 by the (then) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) or Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).
So why have Cambridgeshire County Council done nothing*?
It may be political. The civil parking enforcement zone only applies within the Cambridge City Council boundary, although Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) ‘tickets’ are issued by Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) ‘traffic wardens’ contracted to the County Council. Until the change in control at the May 2021 elections, no senior County Council committee member sat for any Cambridge County Division.
Now, however, Councillor Gerri Bird (Chesterton Division) is Vice-Chair of the County’s Highways and Transport Committee. Perhaps she, and our local county councillors could bring about some welcome changes.
(*But see the discussion in our comments section about whether these powers may have been used on Fendon Road and Mowbray Road.)
So, if the County Council do make regulations will drivers just ignore them?
They might. But it would cost them – £70 for a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). And the regulations wouldn’t be limited to places with yellow ‘no waiting’ lines. Currently, Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) need to wait to see why a vehicle is waiting (eg lawful loading/unloading or unlawful ‘Just popping into the shop’ waiting). Drivers know that they can come out of a shop with something heavy and get away with this misuse of pavements, time and time again.
However, where a pavement parking prohibition is in place, it is breached the instant a vehicle mounts the footway, for whatever reason. CEOs could issue an immediate PCN.
What about Romsey side-streets where the pavement is the only place to park?
In London, parking is allowed on the pavement where local boroughs have set out marked bays half-on, half-off the pavement and put up signs, just like there are in Mill Road’s Romsey Town. A ban on pavement (and verge) parking elsewhere wouldn’t affect Romsey side-streets.
And how much more council tax would we have to pay?
Potentially nothing. Zero. Nil. Zilch. There should be no ongoing cost to council tax payers. Enforcement should be self-financing as penalty charge revenue would help to pay the salaries of the existing enforcement officers.
How can we make our feelings known?
Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can contribute to our comments section at the foot of this blogpost.
If you feel strongly about this issue, why not send a polite email to Councillor Neil Shailer (Romsey) and Councillor Richard Howitt (Petersfield) with Councillor Peter McDonald Councillor (Chair, Highways & Transportation Committee) and Gerri Bird (Vice-Chair) copied in? Click here to open an email to them.
If you don’t live in the Mill Road area you can find the county councillor for your division here.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership has launched (Monday 21st February 2022) a period of public engagement on parking issues in Cambridge. The engagement period will run for four weeks and will close at midday on Monday 21st March 2022. Although pavement parking is not on the list of the kind of on-street parking issues and problems the Greater Cambridge Partnership would like to hear about. They do point out that there may be other parking issues in your area that you may wish to comment on.
You can find the consultation site here – Parking issues in Cambridge: Spring 2022 – and add comments to their interactive map here – Parking 2022 – Discussion Map.
Where else has a scheme like this, outside London?
Peterborough, which is a Unitary Authority* brought in a city-wide Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking in 2017. Although this is a Conservative-led authority, it was proposed by Labour councillors and gained multi-party support. The clever thing which they did was to bring in a overarching Traffic Regulation Order and leave implementation to be a matter for discussion where local communities, or the emergency services requested it, or it was otherwise seen as essential.
*A Unitary Authority means that Peterborough City Council have all of the responsibilities which, in Cambridge are split between Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.
Peterborough City Councillor Richard Ferris, Labour member for Park Ward, said:
“It’s unusual when you get cross-party support like we did at the meeting. It’s a massive issue in Park ward. It’s up there as one of the top half-a-dozen issues people contact me on.”[Peterborough Today: Peterborough drivers face fines for parking on roadside verges or pavements]
More on Peterborough’s scheme…
- There is a city wide prohibition of verge and pavement parking traffic regulation order which requires activation in localised areas before it can be enforced. The Council will only consider activating the order in the following circumstances… [Peterborough.gov: Verge and Pavement Parking Policy Document – Localised Activation of the Unitary Wide Prohibition of Verge and Pavement Parking (Traffic Regulation Order) TRO]
- Parking on grass verges or pavements – Peterborough City Council
Shouldn’t there be a national ban on pavement parking?
This was discussed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee in September 2019. The Chair at that time, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:
“Pavement parking has a huge impact on people’s lives and their ability get around their communities. […] evidence to our inquiry revealed the impact on those with visual and mobility impairments and people with children.
“We are deeply concerned that the Government has failed to act on this issue, despite long-standing promises to do so. This is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the Government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”House of Commons Transport Select Committee, September 2019.
Should Cambridgeshire County Council wait for a national ban? The DfT granted them their own powers – over a decade ago. What are they waiting for?
On 12th March 2020 it was announced: The Government is to run a consultation about a national ban on pavement parking following the Transport Committee’s 2019 influential inquiry and report. [parliament.uk]
The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:
“I am pleased the Government has taken on board the previous Committee’s concerns about the very real difficulties presented by pavement parking and our proposed solutions. […]
“However, we have to now deliver this change. The Government promised to look into the issue in 2015 but consultations, roundtable events and internal reviews failed to lead to any actions to improve the experience of the public. This Government has signalled an intent to finally deliver change. We now need a detailed timeframe from the Department for Transport to ensure this happens.
“In publishing today’s Response, we are putting the Government on notice that we will be monitoring progress carefully. We look forward to reviewing progress on each of the pledges and our Committee has committed to a further evidence session in 12 months’ time to drive real change.”
And here we are, two years on… So, where is the DfT’s Pavement Parking Ban? Nowhere to be seen. But there is no need to wait; the DfT granted Cambridgeshire County Council their own powers over a decade ago.
See also the earlier blogpost: Pavement Parking along Mill Road.
Would you like to walk along a vehicle-free pavement? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments below.