Comments from LSE on Draft Parking Action Plan

We are Living Streets Edinburgh, a local group of the Scottish and UK charity for everyday walking. We want to create an Edinburgh where people of all generations enjoy streets fit for walking.

We want to create a walkable Edinburgh, free from congested roads and pollution, helping reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation in the city. We believe that a more walkable Edinburgh means progress for everyone.

 Generally this plan is very welcome – an excellent initiative

We very much welcome this plan as parking has a direct impact on the quality and usability of the street environment, and on the number of trips made by car, and we are happy to see that in general the Plan indicates that the Council wishes to better manage parking to the benefit of other road users, particularly those making all or part of their trip on foot. We therefore particularly welcome measures that will reduce parking demand in the early evenings and at weekends and that will protect pedestrians crossing points (controlled and uncontrolled, and those with and without dropped kerbs) from inconsiderate parking that is in contravention of the Highway Code.

Take space from on-street parking and give it to people on foot

The plan should set as a general objective that the Council seeks to take space from on-street parking and give it to pedestrians, particularly in the city centre. This is because there are many more pedestrians in the city centre than drivers who park there, and since the quality of the walking environment is important in people’s choice of where to shop and spend time, whilst the available research shows that there is no relationship between the availability or price of parking in the centre of large cities and their retail success (Mingardo, 2012).

The quality of the walking environment on streets such as George IV Bridge, for example, could be improved enormously by the widening of the footway and the narrowing of the carriageway by removing parking, especially since parking on this street will only in future be permitted in the evenings, when demand is low. (Where loading is required, bump up loading areas as used in the London Borough of Camden (e.g. Montague St, Bloomsbury Square) are a useful solution.)

Ensure that Council’s Equality Act duties are included in plan’s actions

On streets where parking controls are changed to operate in the evening or on Sundays, if additional parking controls that constitute “reasonable adjustments” to benefit disabled pedestrians under the Equality Act 2010 are not implemented, the Council is highly likely to be in breach of its duties and thus at risk of enforcement action by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

For example, on main roads where Sunday controls are introduced, 24 hour clearways at bus stops must also be introduced at the same time; or on streets where Priority Parking is introduced crossing points (including those currently without dropped kerbs) must be protected by 24 hour parking restrictions as part of the same TRO that introduces Priority Parking.

In addition, we do not support an exemption from Sunday controls for churches and believe that this would be unlawful under the Equality Act since it would discriminate against people of other religions whose holy day is not a Sunday.

Proposed actions on footway parking are insufficient

Action 28 is insufficient. As the 2012 Transport Scotland Circular on footway parking shows, options to deal with footway parking do exist under the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act and have been used by other authorities, including in Scotland. By continuing to rely on the possibility of Scottish legislation on the matter, the Council is failing to take into account case law on the Equality Act 2010, where courts have found that is not legal for one authority to delegate its responsibilities under the Act to another higher or lower authority, when it has itself the power to deal with the equalities issue – which footway parking clearly is. Action 28 also fails to say what the Council will do if the Scottish Parliament does not pass enabling legislation – the text must be amended to say that the Council will use its existing powers. If it does not, the Council leaves itself open to legal challenge.

Don’t let more parking controls mean more street clutter

The Action Plan must undertake to increase parking regulation in a way that minimises street clutter. If it does not it will not be in line with emerging and existing policy such as the Streetscape Design Guidance and the Active Travel Action Plan. Parking signs already constitute a high percentage of street signs and poles in many areas and the new parking policy provides an important opportunity to reduce such signage to a minimum. Where parking signage is essential, then signage must be fixed to existing street furniture (e.g. lamp posts), walls etc, unless this option has been demonstrated to be unachievable in a specific location.

Increase the public acceptability of the plan

We very much support Action 27 on graduated penalty charges as it will increase the plan’s public acceptability. Other ways to make the Plan more acceptable include using the increased revenue from Sunday and evening parking restrictions to invest in sustainable transport – for example, by subsidising more tendered buses (an action in the Council’s earlier Public Transport Action Plan, which should be cross-referenced); or improving the walking environment. Including in the Plan details of what the Council spends its parking revenue on will also increase its public acceptability.

Evidence on use and demand should support the Action Plan

Demand surveys carried out by the Council in 2006 found that there were empty pay and display spaces on-street, and much off-street parking, available a short walk from areas of very high demand during controlled hours, indicating that there was at that time space within the system to reduce on-street parking to create more space for pedestrians.

In general as stated earlier if the Council wants to create a more pleasant, liveable and economically successful city centre, it needs to take surface road space from those few people who park, and give it to the city’s many walkers. Whether such a policy requires on-street space to be replaced by new off-street parking can only be judged on the basis of good evidence on current on- and off-street supply and demand, and so we hope that the Council has indeed gathered such evidence in preparing this plan, and the plan should present this evidence.

We have a number of more specific comments on the plan:

  • As well as more controls on Sundays, Saturday afternoons should not be forgotten.
  • We would like an Appendix that explains how the Council’s parking enforcement contract works, how much money it raises, and how many PCNs were issued last year and for what types of non-compliance (e.g. overstaying on pay and display bay, loading at prohibited times/locations, etc).
  • A further useful Action would be the introduction of a phone number for members of the public to request enforcement of 24 hour restrictions outwith normal CPZ operating hours. If a double yellow line is parked on at a weekend or at night, members of the public should be able to report this to the mobile enforcement team.
  • Under the section Public Transport and Accessibility there should be a link to the Public Transport Action Plan and a repetition of its actions on parking (as mentioned by Council officers when the Parking Action Plan was discussed at the Transport Forum in May 2015). Linking public transport accessibility only to the rollout of shared use parking spaces (Action 32) risks missing further controls on main roads that are required to improve conditions for public transport.
  • Action 6, which will review main routes, must commit to the introduction of 24 hour waiting and loading restrictions at current pinchpoints for buses, including on those roads with heavy bus flows and parking demand but few or no current parking controls (e.g. Pilrig St) and bus stop clearways at all stops, the latter being clearly linked to the Council’s duties under the Equality Act. Parking in bus lanes is an issue but it is only one aspect of parking that hampers bus operations.
  • Some of the additional revenue raised might also be used to employ an additional member of staff to implement this plan.
  • Regarding Traffic Orders, it would be helpful to have an appendix setting out the process for making TROs in clear terms and indicating the minimum timescales for that process as specified in the 1984 Act and supporting regulations, plus the minimum timescales that City of Edinburgh sets itself for the non-statutory aspects of the process, plus some benchmarking against other local authorities. It is not clear why, given the short statutory timescales, it is proposed to set a target of a year to advertise (draft?) orders (Action 30). There should be text to indicate the Council’s willingness to use experimental orders more widely and an undertaking to learn from other Councils (e.g. East Lothian) as to how the TRO process can be speeded up.