MPs have called for a total ban on drivers parking on pavements and criticised the Government for its lack of action on the “blight” of vehicles blocking footpaths.
Parliament’s cross-party transport select committee said that the issue of cars blocking pavements had left some people scared to leave their homes for fear of not being able to get around safely.
The MPs have recommended that the Government bans the practice completely and hands enforcement power to local authorities, who would then be able to create exemptions if they felt it was necessary.
London is the only part of the UK where there is a specific law against pavement parking, which has been in place since 1974.
The issue is a devolved matter and the committee’s recommendations apply only to England. The Scottish Government is currently working towards a ban and the Welsh Assembly is conducting its own review.
Putting pedestrians in danger
The committee heard from witnesses that the worst cases of pavement parking were effectively leaving the disabled and elderly trapped in their homes “afraid to leave”.
Its report said that the issue posed safety risks to pedestrians as well as increasing isolation for vulnerable members of society.
The Pavement Parking report said: “Pavement parking puts pedestrians in danger when they are forced to move into the road to get around a vehicle or where there are trip hazards due to damage to the pavement.
“People with mobility or visual impairments, as well as those who care for others, are disproportionately affected.
“It exacerbates, and is a cause of, social isolation and loneliness for people who feel unable to safely leave their homes or are physically prevented from doing so by pavement parking.”
Lilian Greenwood MP, who chairs the committee, said: “We are deeply concerned that the Government has failed to act on this issue, despite long-standing promises to do so.
“This is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the Government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.
“In the long-term we believe the Government should ban pavement parking across England – as is already the case in London.
“Local authorities could create exemptions if they choose to do so, but drivers would know that unless it was expressly permitted it was illegal to park their car on the pavement.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are committed to ensuring that our roads work for everyone, but we are also aware that pavement parking can cause real problems for a variety of road users.
“The department recently concluded a review to better understand the case for changing the law, and ministers will be considering our next steps over the coming months.”
The AA’s president, Edmund King, has previously warned that a blanket ban could be a “step too far” and any ban needed to be applied on a street by street basis.