13 PUBLICITY AND CONSULTATION
The importance of complying with parking regulations
283. Non-compliance with parking controls is endemic in the UK. We had evidence that only about a tenth of parking contraventions result in a Penalty Charge Notice being issued.
284. Critics of parking enforcement can fail to recognise the importance of enforcement in keeping traffic moving, bus services running to time, and ensuring road safety. The Institution of Highways and Transportation summarised the important effect of parking contraventions on the transport network:
286. We heard evidence that people park illegally from selfish motives. We accept this, but many people will contravene parking regulations because they have failed to understand the restrictions in force. All parking policies should make clear why the management of parking is necessary, and explain the rationale for particular restrictions.
287. ’Living Streets’ summarised the advantages of better publicity in this context:
288. Many people see the point of sensible parking constraints without which management of our streets would be impossible. There are good grounds for believing that compliance with parking rules would be higher however if more people understood the reasons for having parking controls and associated enforcement. There is strong support in the transport sector for information strategies to achieve this result. All councils which embark on civil parking enforcement must undertake (and review subsequently) a thorough publicity campaign to raise levels of understanding about parking regulation and to promote public debate as to why compliance is important. Embarking on such a campaign only when public confidence in the enforcement regime is in tatters is not good enough. The Department for Transport must support public communications exercises, and should make appropriate publicity material available on a national basis.
289. The process of learning to drive presents another opportunity to explain the importance of compliance with parking regulations, and how to identify those that are in force. When people are learning how to drive the importance of parking regulations should be an integral part of their instruction. The Department for Transport must explore whether more can be done to reinforce the message of responsible compliance as a part of driving instruction and the driving examination. Consideration should be given by the Department about whether there is scope for fuller advice on parking to be provided in the Highway Code.
Consultation, consent, engagement
290. Better public acceptance of the regulations in force will also be promoted if local people are involved more extensively in the process of making the regulations. The Procedure Regulations process requires local authorities to consult local representatives before adopting parking regulations. The Institution of Highways and Transportation, which has recently published good practice guidance entitled, ’Parking Strategies and Management’, indicated that consultation should be used to define clear objectives for parking strategies and policies. The Department told us:
In 2000 the Council consulted every household in the Borough requesting their views on whether the controls should be extended to evenings and weekends. Controls were extended during the evenings but only in a coherent way to minimise confusion... The key point is that the Council rarely initiates change but change comes from representations from, and then consultation with, the local community (emphasis applied).
292. Camden Council described the important role that thorough local consultation can have in shaping views and designing policies which, when implemented, command local support and successfully meet local requirements. The Council explained that it has only proceeded on the basis of extensive and detailed consultation, which has sought to establish community support for controls: