Pavement parking fines earmarked as 'buffer zones' given green light

Cllr Alex Beckett at Cambridgeshire County Council meeting

A motion was proposed by Councillor Alex Beckett (pictured) to use traffic regulation orders to tackle parking on pavements, as the orders would allow drivers who breach it to be fined. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

Drivers who park on Cambridge’s pavements to avoid paying parking charges face being hit with a fine, according to new council plans. 

The issue of “inconsiderate” and “persistent” pavement parking across the county was highlighted at a Cambridgeshire County Council meeting on July 19. 

A motion was proposed by Councillor Alex Beckett to use traffic regulation orders to tackle the issue, as the orders would allow drivers who breach it to be fined. 

He proposed for a trial to initially be run in Cambridge, which if successful, he said plans could then be developed to expand the scheme to all urban areas in the county. 

Cllr Beckett said: “What is the purpose of a pavement? What is the purpose of a verge? 

“To me it seems pretty clear that pavement is designed to carry pedestrians whether on foot, in a buggy, or in a wheelchair. 

“They are designed to keep pedestrians safe from cars and out of the carriageway. 

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“A verge is designed to limit parking and improve the street scene and provide a haven for small wildlife. 

“And yet in many areas across the country we allow our verges to be torn up and our pavements to be blocked. 

“A small minority of inconsiderate motorists see pavements and verges as an extension of the road as a place to stop while not blocking other cars, as a place to avoid paying parking charges.” 

Cllr Beckett said in his own division he had seen “terrible pavement parking” around schools. 

He added that the issue “disproportionately” affected the most vulnerable in society, highlighting in particular people who have mobility or sight impairments. 

Cllr Beckett said he recognised there was a private members’ bill making its way through parliament to outlaw pavement parking, but said this could take years. 

He believed the bill still had problems, including allowing pavement parking for a short period of time for loading, which he said was one of the main issues seen in cities. 

Cllr Beckett explained he was proposing the trials to initially be run in Cambridge, because the city was the only area that had civil parking enforcement and was therefore able to enforce the orders. 

He highlighted that other districts were looking at implementing civil parking enforcement as well, and said the scheme could then be expanded to those areas. 

He said: “This problem is not limited to Cambridge and we should not limit our response to Cambridge in the longer term.” 

Cllr Alex Bulat seconded the motion and said she experienced the problem of pavement parking every day as a pedestrian in Cambridge. 

She said it was a “persistent problem” near many schools and highlighted that it got worse in Abbey when there was a football game taking place. 

Cllr Bulat added that the county council would also not be able to meet its active travel aims if walking could not be made easy and “pleasant”. 

Cllr Douglas Dew said he had originally thought the motion was “extremely Cambridge centric”, but said he recognised a process could be put in place to allow other areas to ‘come on board’. 

He said he had been contacted by people in his ward about the issue of people parking “consistently” on pavements. 

Cllr Dew also highlighted the issue of pavement parking around schools. 

At the meeting, councillors backed a proposal for measures to slow down motorists approaching residential areas. 

A cross-party motion, put forward by Cllr Mark Goldsack, was agreed for the county council’s highways and transport committee to look at further measures, such as ‘buffer zones’. 

Cllr Mark Goldsack at Cambridgeshire County Council

A cross-party motion, put forward by Cllr Mark Goldsack, was agreed for the county council’s highways and transport committee to look at further measures, such as ‘buffer zones’. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

These zones are speed limits on national speed limit roads as they lead into a 30mph area. 

Cllr Ros Hathorn’s motion to improve support for maintaining active travel schemes to encourage more people to walk and cycle, including lobbying government for extra funding towards this, was also supported. 

However, not all councillors believed the pavement parking proposals were the best way for the issue to be tackled. 

Cllr Steve Count argued that the proposals were “Cambridge centric” and said it was “not fair on the Cambridgeshire taxpayer” to fund the proposed city trials when civil enforcement powers in other districts were “around the corner”. 

He suggested that the county council should wait and then run a wider trial across the county. 

Cllr Jan French said she agreed there was an issue with pavement parking, but said the motion put more pressure on highways officers and was “premature”. 

She suggested the county council should wait for the pavement parking bill to go through parliament, which she said would save the authority “quite a lot of resources in the long run”. 

When put to a vote 35 councillors voted in favour, seven against, and three councillors abstained.  

Proposals for the trials are due to be put together and then presented to councillors at the strategy and resources committee. 

Additional reporting by Daniel Mason.