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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

London Local Authorities and transport for London Bill
 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

The Bill is promoted jointly by Westminster City Council (on behalf of the London borough councils including the Common Council of the City of London but excluding the London Borough of Hillingdon) and Transport for London (“TFL”). It makes provision for the improvement and development of the powers of the councils and TFL in relation to a number of highways and road traffic matters.

PART I PRELIMINARY

Clause 1 recites the short title of the Bill and the collective title and provides for the commencement of the Bill to be two months after Royal Assent.

Clause 2 sets out the major definitions of the Bill.

PART II ROAD TRAFFIC AND HIGHWAYS

Clause 3 enables borough councils and TFL to serve a penalty charge notice on the owner of a vehicle, where they have reason to believe that the person in control of the vehicle has acted in contravention of certain road traffic orders or road traffic signs. It also makes particular provision in relation to the London lorry ban.

At present, breaching a road traffic order made under section 6 or section 9 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, or acting in contravention of a road traffic sign under section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is a criminal offence. The purpose of clause 3 and the following clauses is to decriminalise offences in relation to certain types of road traffic orders and road traffic signs. All of the offences to be decriminalised relate to the regulation of traffic.

It is envisaged that much of the enforcement will take place, in the same way that the enforcement of bus lane contraventions already takes place, with the use of cameras.

Where a contravention is detected, the registered keeper of the vehicle (or in the case of a lorry ban contravention, the person holding the HGV operator's licence) will be identified by reference to the number plate, and a penalty charge notice served on him. The keeper will be liable to pay the penalty charge in respect of all contraventions, except contraventions of the London lorry ban. In that case, liability to pay the penalty charge rests with the licensed operator of the HGV concerned and also with the driver. Provision is made so that when the penalty charge notice is served, the recipient is able to make representations stating that some other person is liable. He must provide the name and address of that person.

The procedure following service of a penalty charge notice is based upon the procedure which exists in relation to parking and bus lane contraventions in London. A discount is allowed for early payment of the penalty charge, representations can be made to the council or TFL, and if those representations are not accepted, an appeal can be made to a traffic adjudicator. If a penalty charge notice is not paid within a certain time, then an enforcement notice can be served, and, pending the outcome of any appeal, if the penalty charge remains unpaid, a charge certificate can be issued and the full amount of the penalty charge can be recovered in the county court.

Clause 4 makes particular provision in relation to the lorry ban order, in relation to the identification of the driver of the vehicle and the making of representations in the case when the person served with the notice is not the person liable to pay the charge.

Clause 5 provides for the decriminalisation of those offences which are now to be covered by the penalty charge notice regime.

Clause 6 makes particular provision for hired vehicles. It ensures that liability to pay penalty charges rests with the person who hired the vehicle, not the hire car company.

Clause 7 enables the borough councils and TFL to disclose information about the ownership of vehicles to other councils or TFL, where it is necessary to do so for the purposes of enforcing other road traffic legislation.

Clause 8 enables the borough councils and TFL to apply revenue from the parking regimes enforced by them towards the maintenance of highways. The application of such revenue is controlled by section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Clause 9 makes provision about the time within which criminal proceedings may be brought in respect of offences where false applications have been made for parking permits. As it stands, because the offence is summary only, such prosecutions have to be brought within a certain time from the date of the actual offence. The clause ensures that the borough councils and TFL can bring prosecutions within six months of their discovering the true identity of the person who made the false application.

Clause 10 enables the borough councils and TFL to serve penalty charge notices in respect of cases where vehicles are parked at dropped footways. Dropped footways are those parts of the kerb which have been lowered to provide a point for pedestrians to cross the road or gain access to the highway in their vehicles. Where dropped footways lie outside the area within which parking controls operate, there is no liability to pay penalty charges for vehicles parked so as to obstruct them. This clause rectifies that anomaly.

Clause 11 alters the effect of paragraph 8 of schedule 6 to the Road Traffic Act 1991 which makes provision about statutory declarations which can be made to the court by persons on whom a penalty charge notice or notice to owner has been served under the existing parking regime. As the law stands, the court is obliged to accept a statutory declaration which states that the person involved was not the owner of the vehicle, enabling him to escape liability, even if the statutory declaration is invalid. This clause addresses that problem by ensuring that the court must give some consideration to the views of the borough council or TFL, instead of automatically accepting it. It also makes provision about the late submission of statutory declarations.

Clause 12 makes provision about vehicle crossovers. Where the owner of a property adjacent to highway habitually drives his vehicles over the verge or kerb to gain access to his property, the highway authority is, under the Highways Act, able to impose restrictions and conditions about the construction of the crossover. The authority is currently not able to prevent the kerb or verge being used as a crossover.

Clause 12 will enable the highway authority to so prevent the use of kerbs and verges in this way, in particular circumstances, for example, in order to prevent damage to the footway or verge or in order to facilitate the parking of vehicles on the highway. The clause provides the owner of the property with a right to make representations, and thereafter, a right to appeal to the county court against any order requiring him to cease using the kerb or verge as a crossover.

The clause also provides that the council may carry out works preventing the use of the kerb or verge as a vehicle crossover.

Clause 13 makes provision about the reinstatement of streets where road works have been carried out by a statutory undertaker or person having the authority of a street works licence. The clause extends the obligation to reinstate the street which already exists under section 71 of the New Road Street Works Act. It provides that those carrying out the works must, if necessary, carry out works not just to the part of the street which has been broken up, but to other parts of the street in the vicinity, and to ensure that the appearance of the street remains uniform.

Clause 14 places those carrying out certain major works in the street under an obligation, in certain cases, to place further apparatus in the street which would enable other undertakers, at a later date, to place apparatus in the street without the need to break up the street again. The cost of the additional apparatus would be borne by the highway authority, who could then charge other undertakers for the use of the apparatus.

Clause 15 provides that authorised officers of the highway authority may serve a fixed penalty notice on persons whom they have reason to believe have committed certain offences. The offences concerned are listed in Schedule 4 to the Bill.

The fixed penalty notice gives the person on whom it is served the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction for the offence by payment of a fixed penalty.

Clause 16 makes further provision about the procedure to be followed in relation to the giving of fixed penalty notices.

Clause 17 provides that the highway authorities, through a Joint Committee, may fix the levels of fixed penalties. Further provision about the fixing of such penalties and the application of funds received under the fixed penalty regime is made under Schedule 2.

Clause 18 provides the Secretary of State with reserve powers in respect of the levels of charges which may be fixed by the highway authorities. He may reduce such levels where he considers them to be excessive.

Clause 19 provides highway authorities with enhanced powers to remove things unlawfully deposited on the highway, in cases where there is a continuing problem of such things being deposited on the highway in particular areas and by certain businesses. In such cases, the authority will be able to serve a notice stating that anything placed on the highway in the area concerned will be removed without further notice and that the authority will be able to dispose of the item. It also makes provision about things deposited on the highway which cause a danger, and the manner in which the authority may dispose of such things. The owner of the thing would be able to claim back the proceeds of any such disposal, less any reasonable charges incurred by the authority in removing, storing or disposing of it.

Clause 20 makes provision for the making of appeals in respect of notices served under Clause 19 and in respect of the disposal of items under that clause.

Clause 21 makes provision for the service of notices under Clause 19.

PART III SUPPLEMENTARY

Clause 22 defines the term “authorised officer” under the Act.

Clause 23 makes it an offence to obstruct an authorised officer acting in the exercise of his powers under the Act.

Clause 24 provides that it shall be an offence to fail to furnish a name or satisfactory address for service to an authorised officer where the authorised officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting the person has committed an offence in respect of which the council, or TFL may prosecute legal proceedings.

Clause 25 provides for a defence of due diligence in proceedings for offences under the Act.

Clause 26 makes provision about the liability of directors where offences under the Bill are committed by a body corporate.

Clause 27 makes provision for the making of regulations under the Bill.

Schedule 1 makes provision for enforcement notices, charge certificates and other matters related to the enforcement of Clause 3 (penalty charge notices for road traffic contraventions).

Schedule 2 makes provision about the councils' finances in relation to penalty charges and fixed penalties under the Bill. It enables the councils to apply surpluses in their accounts to certain of their functions.

Schedule 3 lists the traffic signs in relation to which offences are to be decriminalised under Clauses 3 and 5 and made subject to the penalty charge notice regime.

Schedule 4 lists offences in respect of which fixed penalty notices may be served under Clause 16 of the Bill.


 
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Prepared 4 December 2001