As someone who loves a good walk through our towns and villages in Mid Sussex, I have noticed pavement parking is a recurring issue and I know is hugely frustrating to a lot of my friends and constituents as well!
Vehicles parked on pavements can be dangerous for all pedestrians, as it can force us onto the carriageway and into the flow of traffic. In particular, pavement parking can cause real problems for people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments, as well as those with pushchairs. Indeed, a recent review of pavement parking carried out by the Department for Transport found pavement parking was problematic for 95 per cent of respondents who were visually impaired, and 98 per cent of wheelchair users.
While there is a historic ban on pavement parking throughout London, elsewhere any local authority which has taken up civil enforcement powers may introduce a ban on pavement parking where it sees fit through the use of Traffic Regulation Orders. As part of making this easier to implement, in 2011 Ministers gave all councils authorisation to use a sign indicating where a pavement parking restriction is in place, removing the need to ask Whitehall first for permission to use the sign.
However, while successive Governments have recognised there is no perfect solution to this complex problem, I believe it is time to look again at this issue in detail. I welcome Ministers now want to go further and recently ran a consultation on proposals which would allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to crack down on pavements being unnecessarily obstructed. Outside London, only the police currently have the power to enforce this.
The consultation also explores how a nationwide ban on pavement parking, enforced by local authorities, could work. A nationwide ban would need careful consideration and would have to allow, for example, for necessary exceptions or designated spots for pavement parking where required. The approach taken would also have to be tailored to the very different challenges faced in rural and suburban areas.
I look forward to the Government review and outcome now the consultation has closed and will continue to monitor this issue closely.