Fresh legislation is needed to tackle the mounting issue of motorists parking on pavements, due to “extreme” laws hampering enforcement, councillors have heard.
Just weeks after the Scottish Parliament passed a bill that will outlaw pavement parking north of the border from 2021, North Yorkshire County councillors were told significant issues for residents ranging from wheelchair users to children were being created by inconsiderately parked cars across almost every parish.
A meeting of the authority’s transport and environment scrutiny committee heard an elderly resident call on the council to “reclaim all the land grabbed throughout North Yorkshire” by cars parked on pavements as his disabled wife could not safely negotiate most streets.
Councillors were told while enforcement was patchy, many motorists were aware parking enforcement dropped off after 5pm and some streets became bottlenecks.
They voiced frustration after being told while it was an offence to drive on the pavement, even for a short distance, no one was prosecuted for this despite it being clear that the law had been broken.
The authority’s environment corporate director David Bowe said to prosecute for parking on pavements, the offence had to be witnessed by a police officer.
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He said: “The fact that a vehicle fully blocks a footway doesn’t mean an offence is actually committed. An offence is only committed if a pushchair appears and attempts to get past. That’s how extreme it is.
“There is a clear and obvious change in legislation that would allow enforcement which would be that it becomes an offence in its own right.”
While parking on pavements has been illegal in London since 1974, with motorists given a £70 fine for causing an obstruction, the Transport Select Committee began examining the problems the practice causes earlier this year, meaning the penalties could be extended to the rest of England.
If new laws are launched after the parliamentary inquiry, it would enable councils to make it illegal to park on a kerb, unless explicit permission has been granted.
AA president Edmund King has said an outright ban on pavement parking would be “a step too far”, stating an assessment of individual streets should be carried out.
He said: “Where pavement parking is allowed, seven out of ten drivers say the bays should be marked out to show how much of the pavement can be used.”
In the meantime, councillors suggested residents could fight back in the way dashcam evidence of road offences is given to police, with films of pushchairs or wheelchairs being unable to pass a car parked on a pavement.