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We are asked this a lot at Living Streets. And it’s not a simple one to answer. The first thing we must do is unpack the first statement: is obstructive parking already illegal?

The answer is yes. It is illegal to drive up on the pavement except to access a property. It’s also illegal to obstruct the highway. Since pavements are part of the highway, we can say that it is illegal to obstruct the footway. So then, why do we need a new law on pavement parking?’

Our Kath Shaw spoke to Gavin Camm (pictured right) – a wheelchair user in Bradford - about why the current system isn’t working and why we need a new law. 


gavin camm sitting in his wheelchair at the seaside with his dog
two people walking behind a wheelchair

Gavin has been campaigning for action on pavement parking for a couple of years now. It started when he set up a Facebook group ‘Access for the Disabled’ where members can report a wide range of access issues, including obstructive parking.

They upload photos of vehicles on the pavement and provide details of how it’s restricting their mobility. Gavin then reports these to the relevant authorities and gives advice on coping with the circumstances people face.

No matter how many times he reported pavement parking, nothing was done about it. Obstructive parking is illegal, but the local authority and local police force are “unwilling to act on the information provided”.

This has a serious impact on people’s lives, as Gavin says:

“Obstructive parking affects all pedestrians in different ways. Able-bodied people just easily step into the road to pass without a thought but for the disabled it is life changing both physically and mentally.

"As a wheelchair user I cannot enter the road to pass - I either have to find an alternative route or return home. I have been unable to go to the doctors, chemists and shops due to obstructive parking and this will be the same for the majority of disabled people.”

What's the problem? 

Clearly, something is not working. So, let’s look at the system.

The power to prosecute for driving on the footway or obstructing the footway sits with the police. They would need to catch the perpetrator in the act of driving and have a constable present or use police time to act on the obstruction caused. Most police forces don’t have the resource to act on pavement parking. Traffic policing in general is under-resourced and undervalued.

This is a long-standing issue and partly the reason why the Road Traffic Act 1991 allowed local authorities to apply for the legal powers to take over the enforcement of on-street (and off-street) car parking regulations from the police.

It was also felt that people shouldn’t be criminalised for parking offences. In almost all local authorities in England and Wales (bar about three) parking enforcement is managed by Civil Enforcement Officers.

Remember: handing out fines for obstruction and driving on the pavement still sits with the police. Officers employed by councils enforce contraventions listed in the Traffic Management Act (2004). The Greater London Act (1974) prohibiting pavement parking is written into national law via the Traffic Management Act.

Outside London highway authorities can make pavement parking an offence on individual streets or in an area by using a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). Enforcement of a local ban can land the offender with a £70 fine.

The trouble is that this is a very piecemeal approach and putting TROs in place is not cheap. The signs, lines and consultation process can cost £1000 per street.

If you’ve made it this far, you’ll see why it’s not easy to explain this on Twitter.

What’s more all this regional variation is confusing.

A poll by YouGov for the Guide Dogs showed only 5% of drivers are aware of all aspects of the current law on pavement parking. Gavin believes that “most pedestrians, especially the disabled don’t know the current law or who are responsible for policing.”

graphic of car parked on pavement


The Government is currently consulting on three options to manage pavement parking:
  • Simplify the TRO process
  • Decriminalise the offence of obstruction
  • A new law to ban pavement parking
  • We want all three of these things.  

Option 1 (which is happening anyway) makes it easier for councils to manage highways.

Option 2 would allow councils to enforce existing law.

Option 3 requires a change to the Traffic Management Act to bring the rest of England in line with London. We are campaigning for the same change in Wales, and Scotland has already changed its law to ban pavement parking.

We believe that changing legislation to create a ‘London style’ prohibition on pavement parking throughout England is necessary to get rid of any confusion and to send a clear message that parking on pavements is not acceptable.


Not at all. There are exceptions in London too. But parking on pavements should only permitted where it is safe and necessary to do so. That means councils would need to respond to requests to allow pavement parking, assess whether pavements are wide enough and put in marked bays and signs to show where vehicles can be parked.  

blind man trying to squeeze past a car parked on the pavement
animation of a ban on pavement parking


This is the consensus of Living Streets and our long-time campaign partners, Guide Dogs, The British Parking Association, and The Local Government Association.

Together we’re calling for change and it’s long overdue.

In the meantime, let’s raise as much awareness as we can of the problems caused by pavement parking. You can ask your council for a TRO and speak to the police about enforcing existing law.

Gavin worked with West Yorkshire Police to add ‘nuisance / obstructive parking’ to their online reporting page for non-urgent minor crime.

In Gavin’s words: 

“All the disabled charities need to get together with the police and discuss obstructive pavement parking and create a marketing campaign for both pedestrians and vehicle owners to educate them on how to park safely and the outcomes if they don’t. Pedestrians need to know how and where to report incidences and that by working together we can really make a difference.”

About the author

Kathryn Shaw

Head of Communications, Living Streets