The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) is a statutory advisory non-departmental public body. The overall aim for MACS is to consider such matters relating to the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport as the Committee think appropriate and give advice to Scottish Ministers.
We are pleased to respond to this consultation to contribute to the introduction of the prohibitions on irresponsible parking as soon as possible.
With regard to the thirteen specific questions sent out in the consultation document, we are content to support all the proposals (regarding form of PCN, levels of penalty, notification procedures, etc.), except as qualified by the comments below.
Our detailed comments below concern enforcement matters which are not covered in the consultation document, or which we consider are insufficiently covered. We want to ensure that enforcement activity by local authorities is as simple, clear and effective as possible and that regulations on enforcement help local authorities to carry out these duties efficiently.
Some of the points made below may be addressed by guidance, rather than statutory Regulations; Transport Scotland should ensure that they are communicated effectively through whatever channel is most appropriate.
We note that the consultation document does not mention the intended date of implementation already announced by Scottish Ministers (December 2023). We are extremely disappointed at the slow progress in implementing these parking prohibitions; it will be more than four years after the laws were passed by the Scottish Parliament before they can be put into practice.
We understand that the December 2023 target date still applies and that no more consultations or regulations will be required before implementation can begin. Any further delays would be unacceptable. We look forward to seeing an effective public awareness media campaign, which we will be pleased to support and contribute to in any way.
Exceptions (commercial loading, etc.)
Certain types of vehicle and certain types of activity are excepted from the irresponsible parking provisions by way of Section 55 of the Act, for example ‘loading for commercial purposes’. However, these exceptions are qualified in a number of respects: notably that such excepted activity is only permitted where parking on the pavement could not reasonably be done on the carriageway; that the parked vehicle leaves a minimum of 1.5 metres of clear footway and that ‘loading’ is limited to a maximum duration of 20 minutes.
We are surprised that the consultation document does not address how these factors should be recorded. Clear guidance, backed by appropriate regulation, must be provided. It is essential that enforcement activity can ensure that excepted vehicles and activities comply with these requirements.
We wish to ensure that the appeals process does not permit any ‘loopholes’ to be exploited (without hindering, of course, legitimate appeals). In this regard, we therefore seek more clarity on how contraventions are recorded (as per Question 1). It is important that sufficient evidence is obtained to demonstrate why a PCN was issued to ensure that illegitimate appeals cannot succeed. An example of this may include recording the start and finish times of observed pavement parking to ensure that the 20-minute loading clause noted above is not exceeded. Photographic evidence may also have an important part to play.
It is a common practice in parking enforcement to permit ‘grace periods’, for example so that a penalty notice is not issued immediately on expiry of a pay and display time limit, but from five or ten minutes afterwards. We believe that grace periods should NOT apply to irresponsible parking on pavements or at dropped kerbs: an observed offence should be ticketed immediately.
Enforcement by cameras
Sections 58 to 60 of the Act permit ‘approved devices’ (presumably cameras) to be used to detect contravention of parking regulations. We are surprised to see this aspect of enforcement omitted in the consultation document.
MACS supports the use of cameras to assist with enforcement of the responsible parking provisions. Parking attendants will not be able to enforce the provisions everywhere. Cameras could be an important tool for local authorities to use in certain circumstances, perhaps especially rural/remote or island situations where there are persistent infringements which cause significant problems, but which are difficult to address in person.
We recommend that the Regulations specify what devices are approved so that they can be used in enforcement activity from December 2023.