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West Norfolk residents 'fed up' of cars parking on pavements as Government legislation lined up to introduce fines for anti-social parking

Are you livid of Lynn or depressed of Downham when it comes to cars parked on pavements?

Then Government legislation being lined up across England could offer you some deliverance.

Anti-social pavement parking by car drivers could soon bring about fines of £70 with new laws being introduced across England.

An example of parking obstructing pedestrian access on a pavement
An example of parking obstructing pedestrian access on a pavement

The Department for Transport started consultation last August asking whether a change of existing pavement parking legislation should occur.

It launched the proposal into the rules last year setting out three options to make it easier for councils to ban pavement parking, giving local authorities powers to fine drivers who park on paths and an outright ban.

The proposals intend to improve the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking, change the law to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement and introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England.

Particularly for mobility scooters or wheelchair users it is awkward and frustrating to not be able to have clear access along pavements.

It is dangerous for visually impaired pedestrians making their way along the pavement, only to be blocked by cars inconsiderately parked nearly fully on the kerb, with a gap too small to pass through.

Parents with pushchairs and with young children, runners, dog walkers and other pedestrians are forced to cross the road or dangerously step into the road to get round the cars blocking their right of way.

Some residents are fed up with many cars blocking the pavements and causing wheelchair users to have to take routes that are inconvenient, when they really should be able to travel easily.

One resident from Dersingham said: "I use a rollator as it helps me walk, without it I wouldn't be able to walk, unless with a walking stick, because I have osteoarthritis.

"When lorries park on the kerb I am expected to walk in the road when a car could come along. I am fed up with cars parking on the pavement half on and half of the kerb."

Sarah Bristow, the parish clerk of Dersingham Parish Council, said though they have not received formal complaints there have been comments relating to parking in Thornham and on the coast.

Pavement parking causes real issues for partially sighted, visually impaired and people who are blind.

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) website: "Clear pavements are essential for blind and partially sighted people, however, most report parking on pavements is a regular problem which impacts their ability to get around.

"Drivers often mistakenly think they are doing the right thing by keeping the road clear, but fail to realise the consequences of their vehicle now blocking the footpath.

"The impact is that people with sight loss cannot see the obstruction until it is too late, and collide with the parked vehicle."

When is pavement parking illegal? The law on parking on pavements is enshrined in the Highway Code and covers all road vehicles.

Rule 244 of the code states: "You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it."

On street parking enforcement in Norfolk transferred from the police to local authorities in 2011. Local councils have the power to issue Penalty Charge Notices (parking tickets) for parking infringement. People can report obstructive parking to the police on 101.

A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "It is not illegal ‘per se’ to park on a footpath outside of Greater London (although there are currently moves afoot to bring us in line with Greater London and to make it an offence).

"It is an offence however, to park on a footpath and to cause an unnecessary or wilful obstruction of the highway contrary to sec 137 Highways Act 1980."

"In some parts of the community there is considerable pressure in respect to vehicles and appropriate parking. This coupled with self-interested decisions by drivers can lead to parking on occasions where consideration of obstruction offences is necessary. Norfolk Constabulary guidance and policy is; the individual police officer will make a decision as to whether in their opinion an obstruction offence is made out.

"In respect to guidance; should a situation arise where an electric wheel chair, double child pushchair or similar width carriage is unable to pass the vehicle without going onto the road, then it is clear that an obstruction offence is made out. If such carriages can, however continue past the parked car without being forced to go onto the road then the offence is not made out and Norfolk Constabulary will not act."

"In all potential obstruction incidents Norfolk Constabulary recommend that Civil Enforcement officers attend the location and use their own judgement, before making a decision to contact Norfolk Constabulary in respect to an allegation of an obstruction offence, rather than relying solely on any written or telephone report."

Rule 244 adds: “You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.”

If the rest of the UK follows London, parking on grass verges and ramps linking private property to roads would also be prohibited.

The only exceptions to London pavement parking rules are when signs states it is safe to do so, or for unloading deliveries.

Outside of the capital, only lorries are currently prevented from pavement parking. The new legislation would ban antisocial parking to make pavements safer for families and people with disabilities and visual impairment.

This law change – which already exists in London - is in response to complaints about pavement parking and the increased risks it poses to those who rely on them to travel.

It is noticeable when cars overhang on to the pavement, which are too big for the car owners driveway, as it looks like a car is waiting to pull out on the road and can cause alarm to the passing pedestrians.

Again this creates less pavement area for wheelchair users, mobility scooters and causes an obstruction for people who are blind who may bump in to it.

Unless there is signage, for example saying unloading is permitted, or signs stating it is safe to do so, local authorities are able to issue fines for obstructive car parking on the pavement, even if this is your own car outside your home.

It would be safer to park cars on the road, not partially on the pavement so that passing motorists can overtake safely and not squeeze though a gap which may cause an accident with oncoming traffic if it is misjudged.

There seems to be no valid reason for drivers to park on a pavement, when a car or van can be parked on the road, even for a quick five minutes if it inconveniences pedestrians, so maybe clearer guidance is needed for motorists.

Certainly local campaigns can be started if you are having a problem with cars parking on pavements in your local area which can be found at https://www.rnib.org.uk/campaigning-campaign-resources-my-street/cars-pavement

Perhaps the introduction of fines will start to curb the trend for parking on the kerb.

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