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Parking problems

Posted on January 31 2016 at 2:11:41

Barnt Green 1960s parking

When Barnt Green Parish Council asked if police could help with anti-social parking, PCSO Stuart Taylor provided an illuminating outline of the complexities involved.
Here is an abridged version . . .

We are aware that there have been concerns expressed over vehicles and parking at school times.

Local authorities are now responsible for enforcing on-street parking regulations and not the police. Civil parking enforcement was introduced into Bromsgrove on the 30th May 2013.

You can report vehicles parking on double yellow lines to the Bromsgrove civil enforcement team on 01386 565009.

It is not illegal to park partially or completely on the pavement or grass verges (except in London).

The Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 - Section 15, sub-section 12  does give a local council (in this case Bromsgrove District Council) the legal power to introduce and enforce bans on pavement parking. They have chosen not to implement this policy.

It is not an offence to park in front of an entrance to a property (see: Highway Code: Rule 243). It is not illegal to park partially or completely on the pavement or in front of an entrance to a property unless it causes an actual rather then a potential obstruction. 

This is where it gets complicated . . .

The main pieces of legislation that give the police power are:

* Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to wilfully obstruct the highway: 
137(1) If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence.  

and
* Regulation 103 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 creates the offence of unnecessary obstruction:
103. No person in charge of a motor vehicle or trailer shall cause or permit the vehicle to stand on a road so as to cause any unnecessary obstruction of the road.

For the purpose of the legislation a highway is a road and a footpath.

As with all offences there are specific points to prove in order to satisfy that the criteria for the offence has been met. 

With regards to the powers of the police, when we have sufficient evidence that the offence has indeed been committed we complete a WMRT10 Form and report the driver of the offending vehicle for consideration to be sent to court for the offence (no on-the-spot fines anymore).

In light of this the officer reporting may be requested to attend court and give evidence as to why we have reported the person.

Case law has set a precedent for this kind of offence. While the public are fully entitled to the use of the whole of the footpath available to them, the obstruction must be something more than a mere, trifling obstruction (Hertfordshire County Council v Bolden (1987)).

Where a serious obstruction is caused, obviously the offence will be made out. 

Evans v Baker (1971): In this case it was held, that for the purpose of the Regulation 103 offence, leaving a car for a reasonable time, although amounting to an obstruction, did not amount to an unnecessary obstruction.

As you can see, it is not a simple issue. Basically it is a “here and now offence”. An officer must see it. The person reporting the obstruction must have been caused an actual obstruction.

We are going to have to ascertain how they had been obstructed and how it has caused something more than a mere, trifling obstruction.

I will want a statement from the person affected because a defence solicitor is likely to ask: “You have reported my client for causing an obstruction under . . . (Legislation) . . . can you please confirm who was actually caused an obstruction and in what way?”

The person who caused the obstruction may also be required to attend court to give evidence.

Consider this scenario: a resident sees a parent with a pushchair having to walk around a car because it is blocking the pavement.

The resident then phones the police and complains about the car. We attend the location and manage to speak with that parent and they say to us: 

“Yes, I had to walk around the car, it did not cause me any kind of major delay and I had to wait for the traffic to pass by. It was annoying but I’m not really that bothered.”

Think case law:
* Did it occur for only a brief period? e.g. Evans v Baker (1971)
* Did it create considerable problems for other road users or pedestrians? e.g. Hertfordshire County Council v Bolden (1987)
* Did it actually cause an obstruction? e.g. Nagy v Weston (1965)

We will always do our best to act proactively, but generally when we are on patrol and people see us, they will not park inconsiderately.

With regards to someone being obstructed an officer would need to witness a person being obstructed in the first instance and then consider all the factors involved.

We will however monitor the situation and try our best to patrol the area when we are available.

Above: Barnt Green parking mayhem, 1960s-style.

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