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The history of parking within the UK relating to all Roasd Traffic Acts and the introduction of parking Zones

History of Parking

As with everything else they do, the power of councils to enforce parking regulations derives ultimately from Acts of Parliament.

The Road Traffic Act 1984 first enabled councils to enforce certain parking acts, although parking offences were dealt with and enforcement action taken through the criminal court system. A considerable number of parking offences, primarily those concerning restricted (yellow line) parking remained the responsibility of the police and the police traffic warden service.


The Road Traffic Act 1991 brought about a number of key changes in the above arrangements. Parking "offences" enforced by councils were "decriminalised" and brought within the civil enforcement system. At the same time a number of additional enforcement responsibilities, such as restricted (yellow line) parking, were removed from the police and also given to councils.

The provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1991 were first implemented by the 33 London Boroughs during 1993/94. Since the late 1990s an increasing number of councils outside London have also taken up decriminalised enforcement powers. It is these councils in England and Wales, (not including London), for whom the National Parking Adjudication Service provides the independent appeals service required by the Road Traffic Act 1991.

Before any council can take up decriminalised enforcement powers it must first prepare a detailed proposal which is submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport (in England) or for Secretary of State for Wales. Only once this has been approved and the council's scheme is deemed to be viable, will permission be given to prepare for and introduce a decriminalised parking enforcement regime.

Legal powers to implement the scheme are granted formally through the enactment of what is known as an Order in Parliament, through the Statutory Instrument process. All councils operating decriminalised parking must be in possession of such an Order, known as a Special Parking Area Order (SPA Order), before they commence enforcement.

Along with the Acts of Parliament mentioned above, the Road Traffic (Parking Adjudicators) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 1918) govern the management and conduct of parking appeals in England and Wales (outside London).

The Transport Act 2000 (Section 144) provides for Regulations to be made allowing any council in England that already has the power to enforce parking contraventions in the decriminalised scheme to undertake the civil enforcement of bus lane contraventions. These regulations, the Bus Lane Contraventions (Penalty Charges, Adjudication and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005 (ST2005 No 2757), came into force on 1st November 2005. Unlike parking, both the police and the council have the power to enforce bus lane contraventions; however, if the police take criminal proceedings in respect of the bus lane contravention the council must cease enforcement and cancel their penalty charge notice.



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