Council calls on government to speed up legislation to support active, sustainable and accessible cities 

Brighton & Hove City Council is calling on the government to speed up legislation to support schemes designed to encourage active travel and improve the health of people in the city.

Amy Heley, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability committee has written a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, asking that plans to give councils more powers to enforce moving traffic offences are introduced sooner rather than later.

The letter is co-signed by councillors Jamie Lloyd, Elaine Hills and Steve Davis.

The letter, which was sent late last week, says that secondary legislation of part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 is needed so that councils can ‘enforce appropriately to minimise congestion and maximise traffic flow, improve air quality, calm traffic, improve safety, and enhance accessibility.’

The powers would give the council the option of using things like Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras for a greater number of traffic offences.

The council is currently working on a number of schemes for which would be greatly supported by the new legislation including, School Streets and a pilot of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Hanover. It would also help us enforce antisocial pavement parking, something the council has been wanting to address for some time.

Councillor Heley said: “We’re working hard to introduce schemes that will improve people’s health, support greater accessibility, reduce toxic emissions and encourage active and sustainable travel.

“But we need greater enforcement powers to do this effectively and so I’m asking the Secretary of State to speed up this process so that we can get on with making the lives of all our residents better.

“Schemes like School Streets have been very successful but have relied heavily on the amazing work of school and community volunteers. Enforcement powers would allow us to build on these fantastic schemes and make them sustainable in the long term. 

The full letter can be found below:

‘Dear Secretary of State, 

I am writing to urge you to expedite the introduction of the secondary legislation of part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004, that would allow local authorities in England to take on responsibility for enforcement action against moving traffic offences. 

I welcome the support to date from your government with regard to new transport infrastructure, boosting active travel and improving public health. As you will be aware, local councils are taking a greater role in supporting safe travel options in local communities and working to ensure a well-functioning highways and road network for all users. However, to enable the city’s highways to function efficiently it must be able to enforce appropriately to minimise congestion and maximise traffic flow, improve air quality, calm traffic, improve safety, and enhance accessibility.

Those powers which have already been devolved to London are critically needed by local Highway Authorities. For the council to ensure that it can create and manage a sustainable transport network it must be given the relevant powers. Though it has been suggested that such powers would be provided to local authorities as soon as spring 2021, I would appreciate if there was any further indication of when such powers may be available. We are progressing with a number of new schemes, in Brighton & Hove, all of which critically need this secondary legislation to be effective – as detailed below: 

School Streets: 
I was encouraged to read your support for School Streets in your letter dated 16 October 2020. 

Before the third lockdown, we had four of the city’s schools running a school streets programme. The initial programme has been welcomed by both local residents and schools alike. While we are extremely grateful to the local community for volunteering their time to support these closures, this model for School Streets is unsustainable in the long term. Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 did include the primary legislation, but the necessary secondary powers have never been introduced.

However, we have noted that London Boroughs already have these powers via the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003 and are therefore much more able to enforce and deliver well-functioning School Streets Traffic regulation orders. 

If the powers to enforce traffic restrictions such as through the use of ANPR cameras were devolved to local authorities, then this would relieve pressure on the police by enabling the council to use camera technology to enforce such restrictions. ANPR cameras are the most cost effective and efficient way of implementing this type of scheme, the outcomes of which would also add to the general health and wellbeing of residents, as well as improve safety on school roads. 

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: 
Brighton & Hove City Council is also going to be piloting the city’s first Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), in response to a resident-led campaign. Such schemes are designed to stop non-local traffic cutting through quieter residential streets. 

In parts of London, such as Hackney, ANPR cameras are used to enforce traffic restrictions on some roads, which only allow access to authorised vehicles. These cameras are typically more suitable as the means of creating a modal filter, enforcing traffic regulation on some of the narrower streets within a LTN area, or on streets that will still need to provide access for service vehicles, such as public transport, waste and recycling, and emergency services. 

Local councils need the ability to plan and enforce from a full suite of methods and powers. For instance, the effective use of camera technology will help ensure that an LTN pilot is successful in reducing the impacts of unnecessary traffic which will help significantly in the creation of a liveable healthier neighbourhoods. Furthermore, a successful Liveable City is an area that is free from pavement parking, so that public spaces can be accessed freely and enjoyed by all members of our community, including our disabled citizens.

To ensure that the welfare benefits of LTN’s can be experienced more widely across the city, over the coming years, it is critical to optimise the Major Road Network and transportation system outside of those LTN areas. Our programmes and projects are mutually interdependent aiming to create a more successful and a healthier, Liveable City. 

Pavement parking: 
Furthermore, it is critical that our visitors can experience high quality civic space, free of errant pavement parking and anti-social driving. London banned pavement parking nearly half a century ago and we strongly feel that it is time the rest of the country was allowed to catch up. We therefore welcome news that this may be a shared view of your government. Being able to act on pavement parking is vital to make our pavements safer and more accessible, particularly for use by disabled people. By eradicating pavement parking, we will also reduce damage to the city’s footways, which will reduce maintenance costs. Moreover, we could ensure that pavement space can be used more effectively for social distancing. 

I appreciate that there may be legislative complications to this process, and am aware that DfT officials have warned of delays due to a large legislative programme of government. However, to align with government’s agenda for recovery from the pandemic, I would argue that devolving these powers would represent a vital step change for local communities. In line with our reply to your consultation on this issue, we support both immediate powers to tackle ‘unnecessary obstruction of the footway’, as well as powers to introduce a complete pavement parking ban. 

Such powers would ensure local authorities are able to make a real difference to the lives of so many residents in the city, during this third national lockdown and when we emerge from the pandemic. These powers will help us build a future focused on inclusive and active travel and clean air: Never before has the need for all of these powers been so important. 

Once again, I would appreciate any indication of legislative timeline for such work. I am also happy to be contacted about the contents of this letter.

Yours sincerely,
Councillor Amy Heley - Chair of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee 
Councillor Steve Davis 
Councillor Jamie Lloyd 
Councillor Elaine Hills

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