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Regular parking fines show ‘policy failure’ says FTA

The high and sustained levels of parking fines on delivery vehicles in London are a sign of policy failure rather than successful enforcement, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has told the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.

The Committee was taking oral evidence on the impact and costs of local authority parking enforcement on business from witnesses including FTA’s managing director of policy & communications James Hookham.

Hookham stressed that the Traffic Management Act (TMA), that governs local authority parking policy, is in need of fundamental review as it fails to distinguish between ‘parking provision’, which is mainly concerned with private cars, and deliveries to commercial and residential premises, which are an essential economic activity.

He said: “The very high levels of fines that continue to be incurred by operators attempting to deliver to premises, particularly in central London, show a failure by local authorities to adequately plan and provide for kerbside deliveries. No operator sets out to deliberately contravene the restrictions on parking, but the lack of adequate provision means that delivery vehicles have little choice but to stop on restricted routes to gain access to adjacent premises, and become ‘easy pickings’ for enforcement officers. The law needs to be clarified to distinguish between ‘parking’ and ‘delivery and servicing activity’.”

Hookham urged the Committee to recognise that commercial vehicles are in town to make essential deliveries that business and residents rely on. Given an operating cost of around a pound per minute for lorries to operate in town centres, they are not there to ‘park’, but instead perform an essential economic task.

The Traffic Management Act, underpinning parking management and enforcement, has been in place for five years and FTA is calling for a wholesale review by government.

Hookham continued: “The legislation that underpins parking enforcement assumes that congestion management takes precedence over access to the kerbside. While reducing congestion is important, there needs to be a balance, and good provision for deliveries is essential in order to support local businesses. It is high time that this was properly reviewed.”

According to recent FTA surveys, Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) cost businesses millions of pounds a year with several FTA members individually paying more than £1 million a year in fines. But the cost of parking enforcement is not just restricted to the fines themselves - due to the high volumes of PCNs issued to some companies, many are now forced to employ dedicated staff purely to pay and appeal PCNs; while FTA has developed a service to assist its members with this administrative burden.

Hookham added: “The issuing of a PCN is a sign of policy failure rather than enforcement success. However, due to the potentially large income local authorities can make from fines, the incentive is not there to reduce the numbers issued. Greater leadership by central government is needed to ensure a consistent and fair application of the parking policy framework which respects the difference between illegal parking and vital business deliveries.”

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