West Sussex councillors have asked officers to explore the possibility of a county-wide ban on people parking cars on verges and pavements.
The issue was raised during a scrutiny committee meeting where members discussed the county council’s Integrated Parking Strategy 2020-25.
The strategy, which has not been renewed since 2014, lays out the council’s approach as highways authority to issues such as on and off-street parking controls and regulations.
During a discussion about poorly parked cars obstructing footpaths and the like, the cost and efficiency of Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) was mentioned.
Such orders can be put in place to stop people parking off-road in certain areas – but only a certain amount of money is available, meaning just a fraction of the hundreds of requests for orders received each year go ahead.
Cllr Roger Oakley (Con, Worthing East) suggested flipping the system on its head.
He said: “Has anybody considered the best way or the easiest way of addressing foot-way obstructions and verge obstructions is to have a county-wide prohibition?
“Within that, you give it the ability for local authorities to make exemptions.
“It’s been a long-standing practice in much legislation. You can ban a particular subject across a large area and then give authority for exceptions to be included. A much easier way.
“Can you imagine the cost of trying to do umpteen local TROs?
“It will be much cheaper if we just have one county-wide ban and then a number of exemptions in those areas where it couldn’t possibly work.”
The council’s parking manager Miles Davy advised members that a ‘great deal of work’ on the feasibility of just this idea had been carried out by other authorities and the progress was not promising.
Mr Davy also spoke of his ‘disappointment’ with Sussex Police the constant batting back and forth over whether parking on verges and obstructing footpaths was illegal – and who was responsible for enforcement.
He said: “I have spoken to representatives of the police on numerous occasions and I’m very disappointed that they continuously refer cases of obstruction back to the local authority.
“It’s quite clear under the letter of the law that we are not responsible for cases of obstruction.
“They can do that in London, where parking is much more progressed but the referral back to the county council, in my view, is unhelpful.
“I fully appreciate that their priorities are elsewhere but under the letter of the law they are still responsible for that particular act of obstruction.
“We seem to be in a bit of a game of tennis with them at the moment.”
Summing up, chairman Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles put forward recommendations that an advertising campaign be launched to remind people about inconsiderate car use, that the views of the public be sought over how to improve parking enforcement; and that officers report back on the consequences of a county-wide ban on verge/footpath parking.
By Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter