Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Operational Advice during Covid-19

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Version 13 Published 6 Jan 2021

Introduction
 
This advice has been produced jointly by the British Parking Association (BPA), London Councils and the Local Government Association (LGA) to help local authorities develop and implement local plans for traffic and parking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many sections in this advice note were refreshed following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions on 19 December 2020 and have now been revised following the announcement of a new national lockdown from 6 January 2021. The authors of this advice will keep it under constant review in light of the rapidly changing situation and update and reissue as necessary.
 
No two authorities or even town centres are identical, so action will be dependent on local circumstances and it is entirely for each authority to decide what is best for them. The following advice is intended to provide a framework for those local decisions and help achieve some consistency where possible.
 
On and Off-Street Enforcement Activities
 
Whilst a further, more restrictive lockdown has been introduced nationally across England, unlike the first lockdown in March 2020 a significant amount of activity is continuing, and traffic management needs to reflect this. Authorities will need to enforce restrictions according to local conditions, perhaps focussing less on areas where pressures on the supply of parking are reduced.
 
It is recommended that enforcement activity focuses on incidents of obstructive, dangerous and anti-social parking (as well as hotspot areas where demand remains high).  Authorities should continue to prioritise locations of heightened activity where a lack of controls will have a significant, detrimental impact on local communities in terms of safety and access for emergency and essential services. 
 
In residential controlled parking zones, parking demand may currently outstrip supply due to most residents staying at home. This additional pressure will need to be managed carefully to prevent obstructive parking hindering emergency services and the delivery of essential supplies and services, such as waste collection. However, authorities should take a pragmatic approach to unlawful parking if it is not dangerous or causing an obstruction.
Authorities may wish to consider maximising parking spaces in one-hour single yellow line restrictions where commuters might usually park, by relaxing those parking restrictions to enable home-working.  Authorities could also consider temporary extensions to their residents permits for the next two months and then keep this under review. 
If there is significant pressure on demand, any available off-street provision should be considered as an option to provide additional parking for residents. 
Authorities may experience increased demand for parking around COVID-19 testing and vaccination centres and traffic will need to be managed locally and efficiently to minimise disruption.  
As far as is possible, councils should communicate to their communities the location of additional parking and advice regarding the need to park considerately, safely and responsibly and the reasons why this is important.
With a return to increased restrictions, authorities should ensure that the freight sector are able to deliver goods and services to businesses that remain open. Authorities need to ensure that loading and unloading can take place safely and legally and that the highway is not obstructed by vehicles parked in contravention that may have a negative impact on this activity.
Those local authorities that undertake vehicle removals are advised to continue to prioritise vehicles that are parked dangerously or obstructing traffic flow and those vehicles that have been identified as persistent evaders. Where possible, authorities should continue to try to relocate vehicles on-street to a safe, lawful position close by rather than a removal to the vehicle pound. 
 
Any changes in procedures and parking restrictions should be clearly publicised on authority websites and using any other suitable communication tools, with a facility to allow the public to make enquiries.  
 
Civil Enforcement Officers
 
Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) remain essential in ensuring the safe management of our streets and can continue to work during the current restrictions as their duties cannot be performed from home. Please continue to refer to the frontline risk assessment framework in Appendix D to help keep front line officers safe. 
 
CEOs should continue to focus on providing help and advice about where people can and cannot park, encouraging the drivers of poorly parked vehicles to move where possible rather than issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).
 
It is likely that, with the need to adhere to social distancing and threats of abuse, there may be increased incidents of CEOs not being able to successfully serve the PCN in situations where this remains appropriate. This may lead to an increase in postal Regulation 10 ‘prevented from serving’ notices. Authorities need to ensure that they have all of the required evidence on the parking activity in accordance with existing guidance before taking the decision to issue such notices.  See page 19 of Statutory Guidance here.
 
Correspondence
 
Careful consideration should be given to the content of all outgoing correspondence, ensuring it is relevant and responsive to the current situation. A firm but fair regime of dealing with challenges on a case by case basis is advised, taking care to acknowledge and respond specifically to issues raised by the person making the challenge.  Many authorities have seen an increase in the number of challenges based upon mitigating circumstances relating to COVID-19 and this may increase further. It is advisable to consider showing understanding and discretion where this can be verified as a contributing factor to the issuing of the PCN.
 
Taking PCN Payments
 
Authorities are advised to take an understanding and flexible approach towards taking payments in recognition that an increasing number of people will be impacted financially by the pandemic.  
 
Suggested approaches, adopted by many authorities, include extending the discount payment period or providing an offer to put cases on hold to a specific date when the person indicates that they will be able to pay.  Where a motorist has multiple cases to pay, many authorities are offering payment plans or staggering the payments where this will improve the likelihood of resolution. It is recognised the ability to offer such payment options will be based upon what is feasible within each authority’s own systems.
 
Debt registration and enforcement
 
The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (No. 2) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, made on 19 June 2020, allowed Enforcement Agent visits to recommence from 24 August 2020. This advice remains unchanged.   
 
On 5 January 2021 The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) advised the following:
 
The Justice Secretary indicated last night that that public services will continue to function. Some occupations, such as tradespeople are permitted to enter people’s homes. Since August, CIVEA members have successfully implemented robust health and safety measures for enforcement visits, including use of PPE, contactless visits and non-entry to residential property. This has been with the full support of the Government. Therefore, until we are instructed otherwise, enforcement agents can continue to act on behalf of the courts and local authorities in strict compliance with Public Health England and Wales. We will keep in close contact with the Ministry of Justice and communicate any new policy decisions.  
 
Most authorities have resumed normal debt enforcement processes without any significant problems or adverse publicity.   Enforcement Agents report that their experience so far generally is of people wanting to address their debt issues and the resumption of visits has also enabled them to play a valuable role in identifying vulnerability in the community and provide assistance. 
 
CIVEA has been proactive in providing best practice guidance to its members throughout the pandemic which exceed those in many sectors that make similar contact on the doorstep.  CIVEA published a support plan for resumption of debt enforcement, which all CIVEA members have implemented.  This includes not entering residential premises. This is important because the plan has been successful in protecting staff and the public. Of all enforcement visits in September, only 4% of cases reported COVID-19 symptoms, which shows that efforts to identify people in advance are working well. The content of this plan can be found in Appendix E.  
 
The Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) have advised that they are continuing to process batches of debt registrations and warrant requests. They have also reaffirmed that as the courts remain open, they will only be accepting signed statutory declarations so respondents should be contacting their local court in the normal way.  
 
The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agent Regulations (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 extended automatically for a further 12 months the time limit for warrants which reached the end of their life during the COVID-19 period. The COVID-19 period was defined as 26 March 2020 to 23 August 2020.
 
Charging for parking
 
On and off-street charging strategies will continue to play an important part in managing the supply and demand for parking, especially in areas where pressure is increased.  
 
Authorities may wish to consider a more flexible approach to tariffs, where possible within the bounds of statutory processes to meet this new set of demands for parking services. Whether to reduce or remove parking charges, will remain a local decision, but previous experience from earlier lockdowns has shown that raising or reintroducing charges again at a later stage can prove challenging.
 
Given that social distancing and a greater focus on personal shopping for essentials may extend dwell times it may be more appropriate to extend parking duration limits, rather than reduce parking charges where they exist, e.g. to provide more time for the charges and / or extend grace periods before any enforcement action takes place.
 
Loss of income and funding
 
Local authorities also need to be able to recover from significant losses in parking income which is required to support the ongoing provision of services.  Government funding support is being made available for loss of parking income until the end of the 2020/21 financial year, and authorities are strongly encouraged to put forward their claims in good time.  Further information about the funding available, its methodology and how to claim is here: 
 
 
[Please take note of the stipulation that ‘voluntary’ losses cannot be claimed for and see Annex A, example 1 (paras 39-42) as this is significant in relation to decisions to provide free parking.]
 
Social distancing and reducing virus transmission risks
 
Government guidance on social distancing relevant to transport, parking and the public realm is available, and authorities should continue to refer to the relevant parts of this:
 
Department for Transport guidance: 
 
Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-COVID-19-safer-pu....
 
Authorities can continue to offer all their usual forms of payment but should carefully consider any risks associated with machines and take the necessary control measures to reduce them.  Cashless and contactless payments can be encouraged but it is important to try not to fuel fear of touching things or disadvantage customers for whom cashless and card payments are not possible.
 
The BPA has produced a social distancing and virus transmission risk reduction tool kit for car parks which is available to members via the resource library here.
 
The tool kit includes a risk assessment template and ready to use template signs to promote social distancing and hand hygiene. Any queries about either of these resources can be sent to [email protected] 
 
COVID-19 Related Parking Concessions
 
A rise in COVID-19 cases and an increase in restrictions means that critical workers in the NHS and social care are undertaking significantly more vital and highly valued work to support the most vulnerable in our society, save lives and maintain services. They have once again been working day and night as they step up to the continuing challenge we face as a nation. As they seek to minimise the spread of infection, we recognise that many will be travelling to and from their place of work by car and other vehicles. 
 
Authorities should recognise that there may be increased demand for parking from critical health and care workers, especially in areas around hospitals and clinics.  Councils need to make their own local decisions as to whether parking concessions are required to support specific groups of workers based upon need and availability of local provision.  Whether or not to do this remains the decision of each local authority and there is no national guidance or policy to mandate the provision of free parking for essential or key workers (which may also include emergency services and transport workers) in general.  However, we would recommend that authorities adopt a flexible approach to ensure that those who do genuinely need to park are not prevented from doing so or penalised unnecessarily.
Any groups of workers retaining priority/free parking should continue to be encouraged to park off-street where possible, with on-street as a last resort.
 
Government Parking Pass Scheme for Critical Care Workers
 
In April 2020, the Secretary of State for Communities made an informal agreement with the leaders of the Local Government Association for local councils to provide free parking for critical care workers to assist them during the COVID-19 emergency response.  Critical care workers were defined as being NHS staff, health and social care workers and NHS COVID-19 volunteers. This position currently remains unchanged.
To support this agreement, MHCLG created a printable parking pass with associated guidance to enable those eligible to show their entitlement to free parking.  At the time, this arrangement was anticipated to be temporary and related to the national lockdown period. 
This remains a completely voluntary arrangement which has continued unchanged now for over eight months. In that time authorities have encountered many challenges in managing the parking pass scheme including mis-use, use by those not entitled, overstretched demand on parking space, complaints from local residents, problems with distribution of the pass (which should be undertaken by employers), and difficulty in being able to effectively enforce the scheme.
In response to these sorts of difficulties, our research tells us that around 50% of authorities have changed the conditions of or replaced the scheme locally.  These changes have included:
  • Requesting that anyone found using an MHCLG pass exchanges it for a council issued permit, many of which are virtual permit schemes.
  • Restricting eligibility to certain groups of users or specific NHS workers 
  • Providing free parking to a core group of NHS workers and reduced-price parking to other care workers
  • Restricting where the concessions are available and in many cases removing entitlement for many of the on-street concessions listed in the MHCLG guidance
It is likely that over the next few months the demand for parking from health care workers and volunteers and therefore users of the pass may increase. Therefore, the MHCLG pass remains the default position until advised otherwise for councils who wish to continue to provide concessions and are unable or not wishing to introduce a local alternative.  This may be preferable in areas where the MHCLG scheme is not causing any significant problems.
Careful consideration should also be given to challenges from individuals that have identified themselves as critical care workers but yet to be issued with a concession or were not aware of any local concessions in place of the MHCLG’s Parking Pass Scheme, in authorities where this pass in no longer valid.
BPA, LGA and London Councils have been in conversation with MHCLG for seven months to try to find a resolution to this situation.  We are currently discussing draft changes to the guidance and terms and conditions of the pass including proposals to improve the administration and distribution of the pass as well as providing better definitions for entitlement and available concessions. This should address the problems highlighted above and we will update this note accordingly when the final outcomes of those conversations are known.
 
Testing and Vaccination Centres
 
The NHS will be rapidly increasing the number of testing and vaccination centres in the coming days and weeks; local authorities will need to consider the parking arrangements around these facilities. It may be appropriate to alter the payment, enforcement and management arrangements to accommodate the new pattern of use that will inevitably arise.

Advisory Parking Notice

You can help your community by parking considerately

As of (insert date), we have resumed our normal levels of parking management at this location.  For a short period, we are issuing advisory notices to draw people’s attention to where parking rules have been broken & to encourage people to help their community by parking considerately.

Our officer believes that your vehicle is parked in breach of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and local Traffic Regulation Orders.  These regulations are there primarily to keep your community safe and free from hazards and obstruction caused by parked vehicles and to protect some spaces for specific road users.  At this time, ensuring routes are kept clear, spaces needed for critical workers & residents are protected and that people are not negatively affected by inconsiderate parking is especially important.

Please ensure you move your vehicle immediately so that you are parking in a permitted place and with consideration to others. 

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action at this time, but we continue to have a responsibility to local communities in maintaining control of parking.  If your vehicle is seen repeatedly parking in this way you will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services.

.

If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

 

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient.

 

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

 

 

 

Advisory Parking Notice

Parking charges are being/have been reinstated in this location

 

As of (insert date) we resumed parking charges at this location.  From now on you must pay for parking here to avoid the possibility of receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)

For a short period, we are issuing advisory notices to draw people’s attention to the fact charges have been reinstated.

Please ensure you pay the appropriate fee for parking in this location on future visits.

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action at this time, but we have a responsibility to ensure parking is managed and that spaces remain available for those who need them.  Parking charges are important for demand management and to ensure that the council can continue to provide this valuable service.  If your vehicle is found to be parked here again without having paid, you may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services.

 

If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient.

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

Front Line Operations – Risk Assessment Framework

 

This framework has been produced to help BPA members address the risks which may be involved relating to social distancing and reducing the risk of virus transmission for front line operations.

It has not been laid out in the form of a risk register as it is recognised that members have their own company template for risk registers.

The framework provides information and considerations members can use whilst completing their own risk assessments.

How to use the framework:

  1. Use the list in the hazards column to help you identify those which apply to your organisation and processes
  2. Estimate the likelihood of risk arising from the hazards you have identified
  3. Estimate the potential exposure
  4. Use the list in the control measures column to help you determine the measures you will implement and assess the level to which they will reduce the risks.
  5. Use the contents of the implications column to help you to implement control measures

 

Hazard

Control Measures

Implications

Infected workers spreading Covid- 19

 

Temperature checks at start of shifts

 

Implement and enforce policy for self isolation of staff

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/COVID-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-COVID-19-infection

Consider infra red thermometer for checks upon arrival at base.

 

Individual thermometers for remote workers and requirement to check temperature before each shift.

 

Officers working from base may be subject to infection transmission whilst within the office environment.

Implement where appropriate, Government guidelines for Office working.

www.gov.uk/workingsafely

 

Create staggered start and finish times where possible.

 

Stagger all breaks

 

 

Insist on regular hand washing/sanitising and cleaning of surfaces and equipment.  Provide necessary cleaning and washing facilities and ensure this message is reinforced through posters and notices in all work environments.

 

Ensure all staff are briefed regarding Government guidelines.

 

Provision of hand washing facilities and sanitiser

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

Cross infection from shared equipment used by staff

Provide personal issue equipment.

 

If not personal issue, ensure equipment is cleaned with anti-bacterial agent before and after use.

 

Requirement for additional equipment

 

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

Travel in vehicles whilst at work and travel to work

Implement where appropriate, Government guidelines for Vehicles.

www.gov.uk/workingsafely

 

Anti-bacterial wipes or cleaning materials to be provided in vehicles. Staff are required to wipe clean the surfaces in the vehicles at the start and end of their driving duties.

 

Sole occupancy of vehicles recommended. 

 

With multiple occupancy, max 2 people, if rear seating available, seat one in the rear diagonally opposite the driver to maximise distancing, all occupants must wear masks throughout the journey.   Also consider the following:

 

Occupants face forward if both in the front seats

Windows kept open

Try to rota so the same pairs are sharing vehicles on each shift

Dashboard signage to remind of rules

 

Consider supplying masks for use on public transport for travel to and from work

 

Ensure all staff are briefed regarding Government guidelines.

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

 

Provision of masks

Staff exposed to possible infection whilst dealing with members of the public

Adhere to government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

 

Provision of PPE to staff to include face covering, hand sanitiser, gloves and eye protection.

 

Review Government guidance on use of PPE https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-COVID-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

 

Provide masks for any front-line staff working within or close to hospital sites

Consider issuing staff with “distance reminder badges”.

 

Training of staff in the use of equipment and in particular the proper fitting of face coverings.

 

Consideration to be given as to type of face covering to be issued. This could be a face mask and face goggles or a full visor.

 

Government guidance at the moment states that face masks are more for the protection of others rather than the wearer.

 

Threat to staff from confrontational situations including abuse and assault (spitting or coughing at close range with coronavirus threats)

Ensure staff are trained on how to be aware of and how to diffuse escalating situations.

 

Provision of PPE to staff to include face covering, hand sanitiser, gloves and eye protection.

 

Review Government guidance on use of PPE https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-COVID-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

 

Use of radio or other communication device to call for assistance if required.

 

Try to ensure police support / good police relations / coms

 

If situation arises where PCN cannot be issued safely, back off and do not issue or, as an alternative and where permissible, issue Regulation 10 PCN where issue process had started.

 

Consider the supply of Bodycams to staff to act as a deterrent and also to provide evidence of any criminal act.

 

Consider the use of and explicit display of Spit Kits to staff to act as a deterrent and also to provide evidence of any criminal act.

 

Consideration to be given as to type of face covering to be issued. This could be a face mask and face goggles or a full visor.

 

Government guidance at the moment states that face masks are more for the protection of others rather than the wearer and offer little protection from close range spit or cough attacks.

 

It is recommended that for this particular risk, full visors or at least eye goggles and a mask be worn.

 

Delivery of conflict management training and training of staff in the use of equipment and in particular the proper fitting of face coverings.

 

Consider issuing staff with “distance reminder badges”.

 

Training of staff in the use of bodycams.

 

Training of staff in the use of Spit Kits.

 

Exposure to cross infection when coming into contact with pay machines.

 

Clean equipment with anti-bacterial materials before and after contact.

Issue staff with anti-bacterial cleaning materials and instructions on its use.

 

Provide gloves to be worn during cleaning and advise on safe disposal after use.

 

 

Exposure to cross infection when using public toilet facilities

Clean touch parts within the facility with anti-bacterial materials before and after use.

Issue staff with anti-bacterial wipes/cleaning materials and instructions on its use.

 

Provide hand sanitiser and recommend using after leaving the toilet facilities

 

List of suggested places to try for purchase of PPE which have been recommended by other BPA members:

Penham Excel - www.ppe-products.co.uk

AlsoPrint - https://www.alsoprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ALSOprint-Limited-Employee-Welfare-Catalogue-May-2020.pdf

Dynateck (also supply thermometers and can source many other items upon request) – [email protected]

 

COVID-19 Pre-Visit Letter and Vulnerability Identification Phase

Prior to recommencing any visits to customers, all CIVEA members will implement a Pre-visit Letter and Vulnerability Identification Phase. This will involve issuing a light touch reconnection letter, which uses a template based on wording provided by CIVEA, plus follow up communication e.g. by text, email, phone where possible. Firms will use the standard form letter unless their council clients require an alteration. The letter seeks to engage consistently with customers to understand how they have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and respond as appropriate. Each case will be offered support as appropriate, including signposting to the Money Advice Service and debt advice charities.

Enforcement visit suspension

When enforcement can resume following the lifting of emergency regulations, individuals will be given 30 days’ notice of a visit by an enforcement agent, unless the local authority has specific requirements. This is to provide sufficient opportunity for engagement with customers prior to the attendance of an Enforcement Agent, which could prevent additional fees being added to the outstanding debt

Training

All enforcement agents will be required to undertake additional, mandatory CIVEA-approved training prior to any recommencement of visits.

The newly designed training programme will include: the effective use of protective equipment and social distancing requirements, how to protect themselves and those that they encounter in the community. This will be supplemented by refresher training on supporting the vulnerable and recognising mental health issues.

Pre-visit Assessment

Where a telephone number has been sourced and if appropriate to do so, CIVEA members will make outbound calls in advance of enforcement visits to identify any vulnerabilities or changes in circumstances.

Data collection and recording

All CIVEA members will collect and record details of customer vulnerabilities, in line with data protection requirements e.g. customer consent, and develop support plans that reflect CIVEA’s guidance on assessing the impact of COVID-19 on households.

Provision of protective equipment

The majority of enforcement payments are made by telephone before an enforcement agent is required to visit or after a letter has been left. When visits are necessary, CIVEA will work with members to source sufficient workwear and hygiene supplies to protect and reassure staff and members of the public. Enforcement agents will practice social distancing, comply with enhanced hygiene techniques (including disinfecting their kit) and be issued with hand sanitizer.