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New parking rules Cloud or silver lining

The Freight Transport Association says that new parking rules under the Traffic Management Act (2004) have brought the cloud of CCTV enforcement, but at the same time a silver lining of new loading definitions that should help operators avoid or successfully challenge many of their Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).

Whilst CCTV enforcement has been the norm in London for some time, it is a new arrival elsewhere. The main problem is that many operators do not know that a PCN exists until it lands on the doormat – often forwarded to them, with surcharges, from a leasing or rental company. The process of bringing together evidence – delivery notes etc – to defend the PCN is a laborious one and many companies choose to simply pay up even though they were not in the wrong.

On the bright side, there is a silver lining in the form of the new definition of loading and unloading – set out in the new Non-Statutory Operational Guidance – which should make things much easier. The new definition clearly states that 'loading and unloading' includes taking goods inside premises and checking paperwork. It also makes clear that vehicles may reasonably be locked and secured. These changes will make it difficult for Civil Enforcement Officers (formerly known as Parking Attendants) to blithely issue tickets on the basis of a brief observation of the vehicle alone. If a ticket is issued for lack of evidence of un/loading then the grounds for appeal are much stronger.

The new Guidance also requires local authorities to set out clear protocols of how parking and loading restrictions will be monitored and enforced.

Gordon Telling, FTA's Head of Policy for London, South East & East of England said, 'PCNs have grown into a serious problem for many operators – especially when PCNs are being issued whilst legitimate deliveries are being made. The new definition comes as welcome relief to legitimate operators who are making legal deliveries but are being penalised by Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) who are only required to make cursory observations of the vehicle.

'FTA has led the way on reducing PCNs, not only working with the Department for Transport to secure a proper definition of loading and unloading in the Guidance, but also to get the kerbside loading limit raised to 40 minutes.

'Local authorities in London and beyond must take these changes seriously and amend their observation protocols to fit the new definitions as well as the extended period of loading – increased from 20 to 40 minutes – for kerbside deliveries. Failure to make the enforcement fit for purpose – specifically the period and method of observation – will make those authorities liable to legal challenge. Similarly, the scrapping without justification of the 11 o'clock rule – which allowed loading to take place for 'as long as necessary' before 11am – is indefensible.

'We recognise that there needs to be a rigorous and effective enforcement regime to make sure that the streets are kept clear and safe – as much for our members' benefit as anything. However, the rules that currently exist are confusing and counterproductive and need to be harmonised and brought up to date as a matter of urgency.'

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