Unopposed Bill Committee Minutes of Evidence

Sections 60-79

London Local Authorities Bill [HL]

Tuesday 18 February 2003

60. The Clause incorporates provisions providing additional protection to Railtrack, London Underground and other statutory undertakers. Their special position is recognised by enabling them to serve counter notices specifying alternative measures which could be implemented if, for example, there are reasons why special provision needs to be made to protect their undertaking. As I mentioned, my Lords, if you have any particular questions about the technicalities, then Mr Johnson is here to answer them, but that is all I was intending to say on that clause.

61. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I have got one question and that is on subsection 7, which refers to the British Railways Board. Paragraph 13 refers to Railtrack. They are all changing the whole time, at the moment.

62. MR LEWIS: They are. I should mention that negotiations continue with Railtrack, which will not surprise you.

63. CHAIRMAN: Railtrack still exists? I thought they had changed.

64. MR LEWIS: The last letter I received from their agents was headed "Railtrack". I think Network Rail may well have taken over responsibility. My understanding, at least when the Bill was deposited, was that British Railways Board still existed and held residual property which was not required for the continued railway undertaking of Railtrack. So there are a number of disused bridges which continue to be held by the British Railways Board, which is why they appear in the Bill.

65. CHAIRMAN: Presumably this Bill has got to go through the next House and any names would be changed. Would we like to hear how this problem is going to be tackled, briefly? I am sure you have come all the way here to give us an explanation.



66. LORD TORDOFF: I am slightly interested in how you define the magnitude of the problem and how you decide in a particular case that it constitutes a nuisance rather than just the average degree of pigeon droppings - for want of a better word.

(Mr Johnson) The criteria that was used by the Court of Appeal, I think, my Lord, included not only the amount of fouling but the usage of the bridge - the number of pedestrians that passed - as well as the cost to the local authority for cleaning the bridge and footpath. Those are the three main parts.

67. CHAIRMAN: What is the means of stopping the pigeons?

(Mr Johnson) We found that using netting is effective, but not in the long-term. Balham Bridge has now had mesh pinned to the steel work of the bridge, just over the footpath, not over the road. Since that has been carried out no complaints have been received.

68. LORD ELTON: The hiring of tame falcons does not come into this?

(Mr Johnson) This has been suggested. My problem with that is that it has a temporary success. Also, the effect of taking a pigeon to earth under an upturned bus is going to be expensive (?).

69. CHAIRMAN: Since Mr Livingstone has got rid of the pigeons in Trafalgar Square they presumably have to go somewhere else.

(Mr Johnson) Not Balham Bridge.

70. CHAIRMAN: Any other questions on this clause? No. Thank you very much.

(The witness withdrew)

71. MR LEWIS: Turning to Clause 13, this clause finishes off the job which was not entirely completed by the London Local Authorities Act 2000. Before that there were different statutory regimes in relation to the way that dangerous and neglected buildings had been dealt with in and out of London boroughs. The intention behind the provisions of the 2000 Act was to ensure that the same regime existed throughout the whole of London and that there was no distinction between inner and outer boroughs. Unfortunately, not all the amendments which were required for the two regimes were included in the 2000 Act. Therefore, the further amendments contained in Clause 13 are required.

72. Clause 14, Re-inspection of suspected food and food safety training is to be dropped. I should mention for the record that Clause 12 depositing of waste for collection is also to be dropped.

73. CHAIRMAN: Those two are to be dropped completely. All right.

74. MR LEWIS: Clause 15, Repair etc of Vehicles on Highways. This clause would alter the provisions contained in section 5 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1982, which provides for an offence of carrying out works for the repair, maintenance, servicing, improvement or dismantling of, or of any part of or necessary to, a motor vehicle or trailer or works for the installation, replacement, or renewal of any such part or accessory.

75. Within section 5 of the 1982 Act there already exists two defences to this offence. The first is that the works are carried out so as not to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity and the second is that the person carrying out the work does so otherwise than in the course of, or for the purposes of, a business or for gain or reward.

76. The effect of Clause 15 is to reverse the burden of proof in respect of the second of those defences. It is intended to assist mainly in cases where a person is repairing vehicles on the street for reward, but not out of premises which would be recognisable as a car repair centre, in other words from his home. In those cases whilst it might appear obvious that a business is being carried on even if there is a high turnover of vehicles it is difficult to prove.

77. The Clause does follow precedent, the City of Plymouth has similar powers and in their Act of Parliament the burden of proving the repairs are not carried out in the course of the business does rest with the defendant.

78. I should make it clear that the original provision in the 1982 GLC Act does not prevent the ordinary person from carrying out repairs and maintenance to his own vehicle on the highway, it is only in the case where there is a clearly a business being carried out on the highway where it causes obviously perpetual annoyance to the neighbours.

79. CHAIRMAN: It has to cause perpetual annoyance. You would not catch the AA if they came to fix my car outside my house

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003