I would be very grateful if you could clarify West Midlands Police’s position concerning an FOI response from Dudley Borough Council.
Basically, they are saying it is up to the police to deal with any obstructions regarding pavement parking where there is NO Traffic Regulation Order. I would therefore appreciate if you could clarify what constitutes an “Obstruction”. This will hopefully prevent any of our residents falling foul of the law.
Section 22 of the Road Traffic Act states it is an offence to leave a vehicle or trailer on a road in such a position as to cause a danger to other road users – including parking wholly on footpaths – with offenders facing penalty points and fines of up to £1,000
Local authorities (in England) can make an order prohibiting parking on the pavement. If this is the case, then there will be signs which clearly point out on a particular road where parking on the pavement is specifically prohibited. The penalty for contravening this will be a fixed penalty notice.
Otherwise, parking a vehicle on the pavement could lead to an offence of obstruction being committed. This could result in a fixed penalty notice being issued to offending vehicles. It can also cause danger/nuisance for pedestrians and wheelchairs users.
Be aware however that it is an offence to drive on the pavement.
So what is obstruction?
- If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage of the highway, they commit an offence, (section 137 Highways Act 1980). ‘Highway’ means any public road and includes the whole or part of a highway, other than a ferry or waterway, (section 328(1)) and where a highway passes over a bridge or through a tunnel, that bridge or tunnel is to be taken as to be part of the highway (section 328(2)).
- It is an offence to wilfully cause an obstruction in any public footpath or public thoroughfare, (section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1828).
- No person in charge of a motor vehicle or trailer shall cause or permit the vehicle to stand on a road so as to cause any unnecessary obstruction of the road (regulation 103 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986).
- It is an offence to park a heavy commercial vehicle wholly or partly (a) on the verge of a road or (b) on any land situated between two carriageways which is not a footway, or (c) on a footway (section 19 Road Traffic Act 1988).
The elements of the offences vary slightly.
In Nagy v West (1965) it was held that the test of whether a particular use of a highway, by a vehicle, amounts to an obstruction is whether such use is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances including its duration, position and purpose. Also, whether the unreasonable use caused an actual, as opposed to a potential, obstruction.
Of the numerous decided cases on what might constitute an obstruction, Nagy v West (1965) is generally recognised as being the authoritative case on the issue