Friday, 27 January 2012

Suspension of Parking in Tower Hamlets - Policy and Rules

Highway Maintenance - parked on yellow lines
following several days of water works in 

Brokesley Street 26 January 2012
(There is no notice of suspension and no dispensation in force
and planning conditions prevent access by construction vehicles)

MERA has been looking up Tower Hamlet Council's Policy on Parking and Traffic Enforcement.

For the benefit of residents in the Mile End Area and all those who seek suspensions of parking bays we've reproduced the section relevant to the suspension of parking bays in this blog post.  (It starts on page 40 of the document which you can access by clicking this link)

We've highlighted the parts of most interest to local residents.
This section reviews -
  • The exemptions included in the Council's Traffic Management Orders (parking and moving traffic)
  • The availability of dispensations from the waiting and loading restrictions
  • The ability to suspend certain parking regulations
Suspensions, dispensations and exemptions all seem very similar, but in parking they have quite specific meanings and uses, not only in relation to CPZs but more generally (and they are not the same as permits, which are explained in Section 5)

Having introduced (or "designated") a permitted parking place (permit holder, shared use, pay and display, doctor, disabled, etc.), it may be necessary to suspend it for a short time. (If the parking place is no longer required, or it is deemed that it would be better utilised for another purpose, it should be revoked. A Traffic Management Order is required to revoke a designated parking place).

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the Council will only suspend a designated parking place in the following circumstances:-
a) to facilitate maintenance and repairs to the highway
b) to facilitate maintenance and repairs to services (gas, water,
electric, telecoms etc.) buried within the highway
c) business or domestic removal
d) building works
e) filming
f) at the request of the Police (events and public safety)
Anyone can request the suspension of a parking place (or part of a parking place), provided it is for one of the reasons stated above. The suspension is provided to help carry out a task or event but clearly causes inconvenience to those motorists who are then not permitted to use the parking place; and in extreme circumstances a long-term suspension (for example, to facilitate a major redevelopment) can impact on the viability of a small business.
To minimise the inconvenience caused by suspensions the Council will:-
a) only grant a suspension when absolutely necessary
b) restrict the suspension to the minimum space required to perform the task or carry out the event
c) restrict the duration of the suspension to the shortest possible amount of time ) consider the size of suspension in conjunction with the duration (i.e. a long term suspension is more acceptable if only a short
length of kerb is taken)
e) normally make a charge for each suspension based on number of bays/number of days plus administration charge, to encourage the speedy return of the parking place to its designated use. (These charges are reviewed annually and a “parking bay” is defined as 6 metres in length)
f) where there is a choice (and usually there is not), choose to suspend "pay and display only" bays rather than "permit holder only" or "shared use" bays
g) ensure that suspensions are correctly and clearly signed
h) monitor suspensions to ensure they are removed when no longer required
Generally, no more than ten car parking spaces will be approved per day for a suspension.
For a domestic removal a total of three car spaces only will be suspended (approximately 18 metres) and there is no charge for this type of suspension. If the applicant considers this to be insufficient space, additional space may be agreed and the normal suspension charges will apply.
Applications for suspensions should be made no later than five days in advance as the Council will give at least three days advance notice of the suspension for the benefit of residents in the area. However, this is not always possible as emergencies will require priority suspensions and the Council will be unable to give advance warning. Residents are advised to check that there are no suspensions in place on a daily basis if they are leaving their car in a permit or multi use bay.
All documents supplied to holders of permits issued by the Council will include advice to the holders of the need to check their vehicle every day and to ask a neighbour, friend or relative to do this for them if they go away for any length of time, leaving their car in a designated on-street parking bay (that might have to be suspended). All designated parking bays in the Borough might be suspended at some time.

Enforcement action will be taken against any unauthorised vehicle parked in a suspended bay, even if it is displaying a resident permit. Some residents believe that if a bay has been suspended for their use, to facilitate a house removal for example, they may park their own vehicle in the bay if it is not being used by the removal vehicle. This is not the case as a suspension is authorised for a specific purpose and may only be used by the vehicle engaged in that purpose.
Any vehicle parked in a suspended parking place will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and authorised for removal to the Council's car pound. Removal is appropriate because the parking bay is required for another use during the period it is suspended
It is also important to note that a suspension is actually in force at any time, even if the bay would normally be in force during a shorter period. Where times are specified on the suspension notice this will not be the case, but if there are no times shown, enforcement action may be taken at any time during a 24 hour period.
A vehicle displaying a disabled person's parking exemption, parked in a suspended parking place, will be ticketed (PCN) and relocated to the nearest safe parking place.
There are occasions when suspensions are introduced without warning (usually urgent repairs to underground services). Any vehicle that is illegally parked in the bay at the time the suspension comes into effect will be ticketed and removed to the car pound. Any legally parked vehicle will also be ticketed (this creates a unique reference number for the enforcement action) and whenever possible be relocated. The Penalty Charge Notice will be subsequently cancelled.
Where a suspension is required for such a considerable time that the Council must reconsider whether the parking place should be re-designated (as it becomes apparent that the carriageway in question is again required for the passing of vehicles), it becomes inappropriate to levy a daily charge to encourage the early return of the parking bay since this is actually outside the control of the contractor/utility company.
We are committed to giving residents and other drivers as much notice of the suspension as possible, ensuring that the signs indicating that a suspension is in place are clear and give full details of the duration, location and nature of the suspension, to regular checking of suspensions and prompt removal when they are no longer required.
There are three further key points to parking suspensions:-
a) It is not possible to suspend a parking place to permit parking, e.g. the Council can suspend a parking place so that a wedding car can wait for the bride (or groom), but will not suspend a parking place so that guests can come to the celebrations after the wedding.
b) The suspension process can be open to abuse, e.g. a builder may request the suspension of a parking place to assist with delivery of materials to the site, and then use the suspended area to park his own van. Suspensions therefore need to be properly monitored and the Council will issue PCNs in these circumstances.
c) It is not possible to suspend a waiting restriction (yellow line) or waiting and loading restriction (yellow line and kerb blips). If this is what is (in effect) required, then it may be appropriate to grant a "dispensation".
Construction vehicle related to
Telford Homes Development and Thames Water Works in
Brokesley Street on 26 January 2012 (1.49pm)

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