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A clearer path to parking-free pavements: Government responds to Pavement Parking Bill

23 Dec 2015

Parking Popgraphic180On Friday 4 December, pavement parking was debated in the House of Commons for the first time in years, as MPs from both sides of the House stood up to speak in support of a law to tackle the problem. It’s an issue which places blind and visually-impaired people at risk on a daily basis, as well as those with physical disabilities and parents with pushchairs, obstructing the pavement and forcing them to step into the road. For people with sight loss, who may not know if a vehicle is approaching, this can be a frightening experience which can even lead them to avoid leaving their homes.

We have been campaigning to combat the blight of pavement parking since 2013, and this was the latest development, the second reading of the Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill. A private member's bill presented by Simon Hoare MP, the Bill aims to manage the problem by replicating the law which has been in place in London since 1974. It has gained wide-ranging support, from across the political spectrum, from the Local Government Association (LGA) and 37 other groups including the British Parking Association, motorists' groups, disability charities, civic groups, professional organisations and older people's groups. Local councils support the measure too, with 78% of councillors in favour of a pavement parking law.

Private members’ bills have caught the public attention more than usual this year, with a number of bills prevented from progress by MPs who choose to 'talk out' the bills, giving lengthy speeches until the allotted time is up. It was this method which saw the demise of proposals for free hospital parking for carers, while the Off-Patent Drugs Bill did not even reach the point of debate after particularly expansive discussions of the bill beforehand were orchestrated to fill the parliamentary schedule. This has meant that to support a private member's bill can often be a frustrating process.

Campaigning for the Pavement Parking Bill, however, has been an overwhelmingly positive experience and we’ve had a huge amount of success in raising awareness. Since the start of October, over 2500 people have written to their MPs about the Bill and in November, we delivered over 1200 pavement-parking-themed birthday cards to Transport Minister Andrew Jones to show him the strength of feeling on the issue. As a result of this, and of Simon Hoare's tireless work, the Bill avoided the fate of so many other private members’ bills and Friday’s debate saw the Government announce that it will be conducting a policy review into the problem, considering how a law could be put into practice. Guide Dogs will be part of shaping that research, along with other stakeholders. The Bill may have been withdrawn but the path to a law on pavement parking has never looked clearer.

Take Action! You can support the Pavement Parking campaign in England Wales and Scotland by taking our online action.