HL Deb 26 June 1995 vol 565 cc522-4

2.41 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they support those local authorities which are trying to prevent the parking of cars on pavements in streets where this is unnecessary or inappropriate.

Viscount Goschen

Yes, my Lords. The introduction of decriminalised parking enforcement in London has greatly assisted the London authorities in their efforts in this respect, and the publication last month of the guidance enabling authorities elsewhere to apply for similar powers has opened the way for them to tackle this problem effectively.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his reply. I applaud action to reduce parking in unsuitable places. Can he confirm that private persons have not committed an offence when they have bounced cars off the pavement causing no damage and apparently they have done so with the subsequent approval of a transport Minister?

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, this is a complex area of the law and I am sure that the courts would want to take a full view if such a case ever came before them. The important thing is that parking on the pavement is dangerous. We think that the decriminalisation of the parking regime has provided local authorities with a better framework for enforcing solutions to the problems faced by pedestrians. As regards my noble friend's remarks about what was said by my honourable friend, I believe that my honourable friend was reinforcing the message that the dangers to pedestrians of illegally parked cars are severe.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, will the noble Viscount consider and help to resolve a serious situation in Greenford in Ealing, where motor cars not only park on the pavement but drive on the pavement? Drivers seem to be tempted to drive on the pavement to avoid stopping on the yellow line. That has confused Ealing Council, which has brought in a private firm to deal with the issue. The council has told the police that it does not want the police to interfere. The result is that the traffic situation in that part of Greenford in Ealing is dangerous and lawless. Can the noble Viscount have the situation examined and some common sense brought to the problem, and a solution implemented? We should not have to wait until some woman with a child in a pram is killed, as nearly happened last week, or something similar happens before either the council or the Government act.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, if people are driving on the pavement that is very dangerous and very serious. There is a specific offence that covers driving on the pavement. It is up to the police to enforce the law. I am sure that the police will take careful note of the points raised by the noble Lord.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that the police often say that they will not bother with prosecutions because this matter is not considered a priority? Is he also aware that on occasions they produce the excuse that parking on the pavement allows the emergency services to get through? Is that not entirely unacceptable?

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, that is why we introduced measures to decriminalise parking in order to allow local authorities to enforce this measure. It was clear that the police were having great difficulties in enforcing the pavement parking rules. It is equally clear that under the new regime local authorities are in a much better position to enforce the regulations regarding illegal parking on pavements.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, what about cyclists who ride down the pavements? Is that illegal?

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, that is indeed illegal. It is a specific offence under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835, as amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, in view of the Government's experience of giving assistance in these matters at the highest possible level, and in the light of their national experience, will they advise local authorities to use stalking horses to help them in this matter?

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Lord gets the prize for the question furthest away from that on the Order Paper. I have made it clear that we take this problem very seriously, and I feel that the noble Lord should too. It is a question of physical danger to pedestrians, and we have taken firm action to stop it.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, is the Minister aware that my noble friend Lord Bruce was very much on the ball? The problem to which he alludes of erratic driving in Whitehall is very prevalent at the present time, and in particular in the area of the occupancy of No. 10.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, wins the second prize for the silliest question so far today.