Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Operational Advice during Covid-19 (Lockdown Exit Roadmap)

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Version 14 – 16 April 2021

These advice notes have been produced jointly by the British Parking Association (BPA), London Councils and the Local Government Association since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to help local authorities develop and implement local plans for traffic and parking whilst various restrictions on movement have been in place.

Now that government have presented their roadmap for removal of restrictions and local authorities have had time to gain experience in reacting to rapid changes of circumstance, we hope that this is the last advice note we will issue.

Our advice at this stage is predominantly for a return to pre-pandemic business as usual in all primary parking, bus lane and moving traffic activities including enforcement, notice processing and charging.   Authorities may like to refer to version 13 of our advice notes if they find any additional suggestions or information therein helpful.

In addition, the following new advice is given relating to a few specific issues:

 

Government Parking Pass Scheme for Critical Care Workers

The Covid 19 parking pass – based on an agreement between the LGA and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) – provided evidence of entitlement to free parking for those on duty as an NHS staff member, health or social care worker, or NHS Volunteer Responder. The paper passes were originally intended for temporary use during the Covid-19 emergency response period which has proven to be longer than anticipated.

The publication of the government’s roadmap for the lifting of Covid 19 restrictions presents an opportunity to begin the phased withdrawal of the Covid 19 parking pass.

The anticipated increase in mobility as restrictions are eased is expected to result in an increase in demand for parking at many locations. This is likely to mean that it is not sustainable for many local authorities to continue to allow unregulated free parking to continue.

Councils who are still accepting the paper passes may wish to consider planning for a phased withdrawal between now the final step of the roadmap, which will not be before 21 June 2021.

Those local authorities still accepting the paper pass, and which wish to continue to offer some free parking concessions, are advised to provide notice they are withdrawing from the current scheme and then ideally fully transition to their local systems by 21 June, if they have not done so already.

We are aware that many local authorities have developed their own very effective methods to distribute and enforce passes and a number have already launched their own electronic versions of a parking permit for specific healthcare and other key workers. This approach continues to be welcomed.

Authorities continue to have complete local autonomy on what concessions they may wish to offer. Our suggestion of a planned and well-publicised withdrawal of the paper passes does not mean that a council cannot introduce or continue with a more secure, locally managed scheme of their own e.g. for healthcare or other workers where a genuine temporary need continues. 

Good communication during the phasing out of the passes is very important and councils may wish to employ warning notices to advise those found using the pass of their withdrawal and the date upon which they will no longer be valid as well as updating information on their websites and communicating plans to relevant local employers.

As the economy reopens, MHCLG will be replacing the guidance on the gov.uk website to reflect the LGA, BPA, and London Councils’ recommendation that paper passes will no longer be valid. It will also advise those interested in a parking concession to check their local council’s website for details of any relevant schemes.

 

Breathing Space (Debt Respite Scheme) regulations

Breathing space, or the debt respite scheme, gives people in financial difficulty  protection from their creditors for a period of time in order for them to address their debt problems and find a solution.

The regulations commence  on 4 May 2021 and any corporate entity to which people may have outstanding debts,  is expected to have processes in place to respond. There are a handful of exemptions in terms of the type of debts that can be included in the scheme  (listed in the advice note linked below). Parking debts (both public and private sector) qualify for breathing space, so a debtor may include outstanding PCNs in their arrangement.

The BPA has produced an advice note which can be downloaded here This advice will be kept under review and updated as necessary.

 

Preparing for the 2021 holiday season

In 2020, as the first lockdown restrictions were eased over the summer, less people travelling abroad led to a marked increase in holidaying or  day trips in the UK.  This resulted in unprecedented levels of demand for parking in places popular with tourists, which many local councils struggled to manage effectively. 

Provided lockdown restrictions are eased sufficiently by the summer to allow UK holidays and day trips to go ahead as planned, then it is anticipated that we are likely to see a  a repeat of the above. 

Many authorities have already developed tourist plans and the BPA will be sharing examples of these across their membership. 

Local authorities in tourist hot spots need to be able to increase local parking supply as far as possible, including offering and encouraging periphery parking/parking further from destination with services like park and ride (if feasible in terms of social distancing) or introduction  and promotion of Park Active, even if these are just temporary facilities.  Good collaborative working between public and private sectors locally is also advised to effectively utilise all available space.  Local authorities should explore temporary changes to permitted development rights to establish whether these may be used for the creation of additional parking facilities.

Discussions have been taking place with Government seeking policy support to help councils manage such surges in demand , including the suggestion of increasing deterrents against inconsiderate parking, but at this stage we are not confident this will result in any significant change to current Government policy support..  The Government has so far issued a limited amount of parking advice for tourist destinations in this publication: Guidance for managing beaches, the countryside and rural areas

Use of advance national messaging campaigns in the weeks preceding the anticipated summer surge can help to promote the need for sensible parking.  The BPA’s existing ‘selfish parking’ campaign has been updated with a special emphasis on summer holiday issues and authorities are encouraged to run this campaign locally. Campaign materials can be obtained from [email protected]

 

Loss of income and funding

Government funding support for lost parking income has been extended until June 2021.  Further information about the funding available, its methodology and how to claim is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-government-income-compensation-scheme-for-lost-sales-fees-and-charges

Authorities may claim for both off and on street parking losses, including for enforcement, provided they can meet the criteria.  We understand many councils have been successful in claiming for all of these types of losses.

[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.]