Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Who gets fined for this blocked pavement?

Tottering along the street on my way to the shops, I came across the scene below, and having just read about proposed new laws aimed at ending irresponsible parking, pondered on how they would be applied in such a case:

Pavement Parking

Pavement parking but NOT obstructing

Before considering this, I have to say that the current Government’s track record on legislation is poor. For some reason, rather than using perfectly good existing legislation to deal with many offences, it enacts ‘new’ legislation, aimed at specific offences. I can only assume the reason is to “be seen to be doing something”. There’s little or no media coverage for simply telling authorities to do their jobs and apply existing laws. But, if a new laws can be created, and headlines grabbed by saying they will deal with something, then points can be scored and claims that “We did something!” can be made.

These new laws, if passed, could lead to the end of ‘Common Sense’ policing.

For example, there’s a massively wide pavement across from houses in the area of Battery Place in Rothesay, but the road is narrow and vehicles can only park on one side. For as long as I can remember, cars (belonging to residents and guests staying at hotels) have parked on the pavement, with all four wheels on it, not just two. But the pavement is so wide, people, wheelchairs, and prams can still pass without difficulty. A few weeks ago, police on Bute announced a clampdown on bad parking (using existing laws – no new ones needed!), but said they would not be ticketing cars on the pavement in the area of Battery Place, unless they were actually causing an obstruction. See ‘Common sense’ say police over Rothesay pavement parking – Community News – The Buteman

So, according to the police on Bute it’s already an offence to park on the pavement, let alone cause an obstruction. Why do we need more laws?

The case pictured above is intriguing…

I walk this road almost daily and the scenario is an exception. It’s unusual for cars to be on the pavement (see the van and car in the background, they’re always there), and although it is 50% on, there is still space to pass. What confuses this situation is the wheelie bin, placed so as to block the pavement, even to a slim walker. A wheelchair user or pram would be forced on to the road. It may be a quiet road with few cars, but that’s not the issue. The car is not causing an obstruction, despite being parked well onto the pavement. There’s sufficient space to pass between it and the wall, and it is only the introduction of the wheelie bin into that space that causes the obstruction.

It’s kind of hard to see why a driver would park like that if the wheelie bin was there on arrival. Even if it was, they’d probably shove it to the side, as it is blocking their way into the house.

But it’s hard to see why the home-owner would place the bin there instead of at the kerb, if the car was there when they put it out.

It could have been kids, just wanting to make a nuisance.

However, I’d like to see how the ‘New’ legislation would deal with this.

Just ticket the driver, since the motorist is now always seen as guilty and a soft-target, and a handy source of a few quid?

How about the home-owner? With no video record, who’s to say they did just shove the bin in the street without taking care, and were the ones that blocked the space after the car was parked?

And of course, if it was just kids up to no good, then the law would take no account of that, and the soft target motorist would be ticket just for being there.

Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill

You can read the proposal for the new bill here:

Proposed Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill – 20120328_Responsible_Parking.pdf

I’m afraid I find it rather poorly drafted and even confusing in places, as it seem to be determined to show the existing legislation is inadequate.

For example, it states:

At present, any pedestrian whose path is blocked by a parked vehicle must telephone the police, show to a police officer that their path is obstructed and wait for the individual police officer to decide that action should be taken. The official police view has been characterised thus: while it is an offence for any person to drive on or to obstruct the pavement, to take enforcement action, the police require evidence of the vehicle being driven. This lack of clarity is unhelpful to police, drivers and affected pedestrians.
That seems inconsistent to my simple mind.
On the one hand it clearly states that “it is an offence for any person to drive on or to obstruct the pavement.”
The it states: “to take enforcement action, the police require evidence of the vehicle being driven.”
It clearly states “or to obstruct the pavement.”
Not “and to obstruct the pavement.”
So, why do they state the officer requires evidence of the vehicle being driven? If it’s on the pavement and an obstruction, by their own definition, the officer can issue a ticket. No need for evidence of it being driven. Not unless they have reason to believe it was deposited there by a passing flying saucer!
And, referring to my earlier observation above, police on Bute do not seem to need any evidence of the vehicle being driven, so even the official line is ambiguous and inconsistent.
I’m afraid the rest of the proposal is similarly ambiguous, and should probably be revised to be consistent and accurate,

July 20, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian, Transport | ,

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