Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Operational Advice during Covid-19

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Version 10 Published 14 September 2020

 

Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Operational Advice for COVID-19 Lockdown Easing (Phase 3)

Introduction

This guidance has been produced jointly by the British Parking Association, London Councils and the Local Government Association to help local authorities develop and implement local plans for lifting any temporary traffic and parking arrangements put in place since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown period. The authors of this advice will keep it under constant review in light of the rapidly changing situation and update and reissue as necessary.

No two authorities or even town centres are identical, so local action will be dependent on local circumstances and it is entirely for each authority to decide what is best for them. The following advice is intended to provide a framework for those local decisions and help achieve some consistency where possible.

 

*NEW* Blue Badge enforcement

Local authorities will be aware that, due to COVID-19 related pressures on the processing of Blue Badge applications and reapplications, the UK and devolved governments and local government associations advised that local authority parking teams should not issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to citizens using Blue Badges with an expiry date of 1 January 2020 onwards. This relaxation of enforcement against expired Blue Badges ends on 30 September 2020.

To minimise the possibility of PCN’s being issued to badge holders who may overlook or were not aware of the end date of the relaxation of enforcement, authorities are advised to issue Warning Notices for first offences (only) up until the end of October.  Suggested content for such notices is included in Appendix B. 

To further ensure there are no problems for applicants when normal enforcement resumes, local authorities are encouraged to do what they can to ensure that any backlogs of badge reapplications are processed by the 30 September and that blue badge holders are made aware that expired badges should not be used thereafter.  Where an in-person, face to face, assessment is necessary to decide upon eligibility, local authorities should undertake such assessments if they can be performed in a safe, COVID-19 -secure manner.  

Authorities can continue to enforcement against other forms of misuse or where blue badge concessions are not valid, as normal.

 

On and Off-Street Enforcement Activities

In areas where enforcement had temporarily been suspended or where substantive changes are being made such as reintroduction of charges or removal of permits, authorities had previously been advised to consider the issuance of Warning Notices, outlining details of the contravention and advising that a PCN will be issued in the future if regulations/controls are not observed. Authorities may wish to continue this practice where enforcement commences, or substantive changes are made in more areas where controls had previously been suspended. Authorities may also consider the use of an alternative waterproof envelope for such Warning Notices to manage this message and help ensure that they are not mistaken for a PCN (see Appendix A).  Authorities may wish to use the Advisory Parking Notice templates created by the BPA as a basis for their own notices (see Appendices C and D)

Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) should be encouraged to provide help and advice about where people can and cannot park, ensuring that social distancing guidelines are applied and adhered to.

It is likely that, with the need to adhere to social distancing and threats of abuse, there may be increased incidents of CEOs not being able to successfully serve the PCN which may lead to an increase in postal Regulation 10 ‘prevented from serving’ notices. Authorities need to ensure that they have all of the required evidence on the parking activity in accordance with existing guidance before taking the decision to issue such notices.  See page 19 of Statutory Guidance here

The ongoing phased increase in commercial activity means it will become increasingly important for the freight sector to be able to deliver goods and services to shops and businesses. Authorities need to ensure that loading and unloading can take place safely and legally and that the highway is not obstructed by vehicles parked in contravention that could have a negative impact on this activity.

Those local authorities that undertake vehicle removals can continue to do so but should prioritise vehicles that are parked dangerously or obstructing traffic flow and those vehicles that have been identified as persistent evaders. Where possible, authorities should consider a street to street relocation a to a safe, lawful position close by rather than a removal to the vehicle pound.

Any changes in procedures and parking restrictions should be clearly publicised on authority websites with a facility to allow the public to make enquiries.  

 

Correspondence

Careful consideration should be given to the content of all correspondence, ensuring it is relevant and responsive to the current COVID-19 situation. A firm but fair regime of dealing with challenges and formal representations is advised.  There is likely to be an increase in the number of challenges based upon mitigating circumstances relating to COVID-19 and authorities should consider showing some discretion where this can be verified as a contributing factor to the issuing of the PCN

 

Taking Payments

Authorities should, wherever possible, continue to take a common sense and flexible approach towards taking payments and recognise that many people may be struggling financially. 

Recommendations include extending the discount payment periods or providing an offer to put cases on hold to a specific date when the person indicates that they will be able to pay.  Where a motorist has multiple cases to pay, authorities may wish to consider a payment plan or staggering the payments if this will improve the likelihood of resolution. It is recognised the ability to offer such payment options will be based upon what is feasible within each authority’s own systems.

 

Debt registration and enforcement

Authorities are encouraged to resume the debt registration process if they had previously ceased this activity.

The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (No. 2) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, made on 19 June 2020, enabled Enforcement Agent visits to recommence from 24 August 2020.

The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) was proactive in providing best practice guidance to its members prior to the government’s COVID-19 lockdown measures being introduced.  CIVEA have published a post-lockdown support plan which all CIVEA members have implemented.  The content of this plan can be found in Appendix F.

Authorities are reminded that as of 07 July 2020, the Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) have no longer been accepting unsigned statutory declarations. Respondents should now be contacting their local court in the normal way.

Following recent legislation, there has been an amendment to the life of a warrant under the Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agent Regulations (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. The effect of the regulation amendment is to extend automatically for a further 12 months any time limit for taking control of goods that reaches the end of its life during the COVID-19 period. The emergency period itself has been defined as 26 March 2020 to 23 August 2020.

TEC have put a procedure in place so that those warrants that expired between 26th February and 23rd August 2020 will be extended by 12 months.  This is supported by Statutory instruments 451 and 614.

SI 451 - See link http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/451/made

SI 614 – See link http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/614/pdfs/uksi_20200614_en.pdf

All warrant reissue requests sent during the timescale above will have automatically been extended by TEC’s systems.

 

Charging strategies

On and off-street charging strategies will play an important part in the recovery process in regulating vehicle movement and therefore re-commencing of charging, where it has been suspended is becoming increasingly necessary as a demand management tool.   Local decisions about charging strategies should be made with an emphasis on promoting active travel, supporting social distancing, giving priority to critical care workers as appropriate and managing air quality.  For authorities re-introducing charging after a period of suspension, it is advised that warning notices are used for a short period after resumption of charges.  Suggested content for such notices can be found at Appendix D.

Authorities may wish to take a more flexible approach to tariffs where possible within the bounds of statutory processes. This could include recognising a potential increase in demand for all day worker parking by offering weekly or monthly rates to support the return to work for those who cannot cycle or walk as an alternative to public transport.  Authorities also need to  consider the feasibility of incentivising parking further out from retail and urban centres by making it cheaper and combining it with active travel for the last part of the journey in  combination with relatively higher pricing for short stay parking in central locations.  Central locations may also need to be prioritised to some extent to provide for disabled parking where kerb side space has been reduced to enable social distancing measures. Where charges are being reinstated, please see advice below regarding payment methods.

 

 

Social distancing and reducing virus transmission risks

Government guidance on social distancing relevant to transport, parking and the public realm has been published and authorities should refer to the relevant parts of this:

Department for Transport guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers

Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-public-places-urban-centres-and-green-spaces.

It is likely that some authorities will be required to suspend on-street parking in certain locations to enable them to widen pedestrian areas to support social distancing and/or to put in cycle lanes to support active travel. 

Authorities should continue to offer all of their usual forms of payment but should carefully consider risks associated with machines and take the necessary control measures to reduce them.  Cashless and contactless payments can be encouraged but it is important to try not to fuel fear of touching things or disadvantage customers for whom cashless and card payments are not possible.

The BPA has produced a social distancing and virus transmission risk reduction tool kit for car parks which is available to members via the resource library here  The tool kit includes a risk assessment template and ready to use template signs.  In addition, they have produced a frontline officer risk assessment framework, (see Appendix E). Any queries about either of these resources can be sent to [email protected]

 

Repurposing the Kerb

Many authorities have taken steps to introduce temporary or experimental traffic orders to re-purpose the kerbside and enable wider pedestrian spaces and cycle lanes. This can be an effective measure in encouraging increased levels of walking and cycling as many people avoid public transport, whilst also supporting social distancing guidelines. When implementing new schemes, planners need to be aware of the demand for parking services in an area and the impact that a significant reduction in the supply could have on the management of traffic on their highway. Whilst car use is not necessarily encouraged, private transport remains a more desirable travel mode.  Any reduction in available space for blue badge holders needs to be considered before changes are made and viable alternatives provided.

Any highway repurposing should be carefully considered to avoid any negative impact on residents and the local business community and appropriate consultation is advised prior to the commencement of any temporary orders.  The ability of freight operators to deliver goods and services should be considered as well as facilitating kerbside loading and unloading in a safe and practical way. 

 

COVID-19 Related Parking Concessions

During COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, most authorities throughout England introduced temporary provisions to assist key workers to be able to park for free so that they could continue to provide essential services.  Where local exemptions/permits have been issued, it has become increasingly necessary to consider withdrawing these concessions, as traffic and parking demand has increased, putting a strain on capacity.  Withdrawal of permits should be undertaken in a phased manner, be well communicated to users and make use of warning notices for a period of time after the permits have been withdrawn where possible.

 

Government requested parking concessions for the NHS, health and social care workers and NHS COVID-19 volunteers still apply (see next section for further details).   It is advised that PCNs should not be issued to those vehicles displaying such passes/permits unless parked in an obstructive and/or dangerous manner.

Where appropriate other workers should be sign-posted to locations with the greatest amount of spare parking capacity, including privately operated car parks. The decision on whether this parking should be paid for is for individual authorities (see charging strategies advice above).  Any groups of workers retaining priority/free parking should continue to be encouraged to park off-street where possible, with on-street as a last resort.

 

Government Parking Pass and Other Evidence of Entitlement to Parking Concessions

The government’s free parking concessions and supporting parking pass scheme for NHS and health and social care staff and NHS COVID-19 volunteers (critical care workers) will continue to operate until government advises of its withdrawal or changes to the scheme. This scheme is currently under review.

Councils will need to make their frontline teams aware of what the pass looks like and the guidance so they are aware of where holders have been told they can use it.  If any local authorities need to see a copy of the pass please contact [email protected] Members of the public, if eligible, can only obtain a pass through their employer.

If a special COVID-19 permit system for critical care workers remains in place for your council or other evidence of entitlement continues to be accepted following previous advice, this should be maintained, and the pass does not need to replace it.  The guidance for users clarifies this point.

Appendix B – Warning Notice Example – Blue Badge Enforcement of Expired Badges

Advisory Parking Notice

From 30th September 2020, you must ensure your Blue Badge is valid

 

Our officer has noted that the blue badge displayed in this vehicle has expired.  Please be aware that as of 30th September temporary relaxation of enforcement of expired badges has ceased.

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action, so please ensure you display an up to date blue badge in future as failure to do so may result in you being issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.  If you have not been issued with a replacement badge, please contact (insert relevant e-mail/contact number)

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services.

.

If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient.

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

Advisory Parking Notice

You can help your community by parking considerately

 

As the COVID-19 lock down is gradually eased, it is becoming necessary for us to resume greater levels of parking management to respond to the increase in car travel.  For a short period we are issuing advisory notices to draw people’s attention to where parking rules have been broken & to highlight that people can help their community by parking considerately.

Our officer believes that your vehicle is parked in breach of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and local Traffic Regulation Orders.  These regulations are there primarily to keep your community safe and free from hazards and obstruction caused by parked vehicles and to protect some spaces for specific road users.  At this time, ensuring routes are kept clear, spaces needed for critical workers & residents are protected and that people are not negatively affected by inconsiderate parking is especially important.

Please ensure you move your vehicle immediately so that you are parking in a permitted place and with consideration to others. 

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action at this time, but we continue to have a responsibility to local communities in maintaining control of parking.  If your vehicle is seen repeatedly parking in this way you will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services.

 

If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient.

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

Advisory Parking Notice

Parking charges are being/have been reinstated in this location

 

As the COVID-19 lock down is gradually eased, the council is resuming parking charges to respond to the increase in car travel and to manage the demand for parking.  Normal parking charges will apply at this location from X (date)/Normal parking charges have now resumed at this location and you must pay for parking here from that date/now on. (/ DELETE AS APPROPRIATE)

For a short period we are issuing advisory notices to draw people’s attention to the fact charges are resuming/have been reinstated. (/ DELETE AS APPROPRIATE)

Please ensure you pay the appropriate fee for parking in this location on future visits.

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action at this time, but we have a responsibility to ensure parking is managed and that spaces are available for those who need them.  Parking charges are important for demand management and to ensure that the council can continue to provide this valuable service.  If your vehicle is found to be parked here again without having paid, you may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services

 

 

If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient.

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

 

Front Line Operations – Risk Assessment Framework

 

This framework has been produced to help BPA members address the risks which may be involved relating to social distancing and reducing the risk of virus transmission for front line operations.

It has not been laid out in the form of a risk register as it is recognised that members have their own company template for risk registers.

The framework provides information and considerations members can use whilst completing their  own risk assessments.

How to use the framework:

  1. Use the list in the hazards column to help you identify those which apply to your organisation and processes
  2. Estimate the likelihood of risk arising from the hazards you have identified
  3. Estimate the potential exposure
  4. Use the list in the control measures column to help you determine the measures you will implement and assess the level to which they will reduce the risks.
  5. Use the contents of the implications column to help you to implement control measures

 

Hazard

Control Measures

Implications

Infected workers spreading Covid- 19

 

Temperature checks at start of shifts

 

Implement and enforce policy for self isolation of staff

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Consider infra red thermometer for checks upon arrival at base.

 

Individual thermometers for remote workers and requirement to check temperature before each shift.

 

Officers working from base may be subject to infection transmission whilst within the office environment.

Implement where appropriate, Government guidelines for Office working.

www.gov.uk/workingsafely

 

Create staggered start and finish times where possible.

 

Stagger all breaks

 

 

Insist on regular hand washing/sanitising and cleaning of surfaces and equipment.  Provide necessary cleaning and washing facilities and ensure this message is reinforced through posters and notices in all work environments.

 

Ensure all staff are briefed regarding Government guidelines.

 

Provision of hand washing facilities and sanitiser

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

Cross infection from shared equipment used by staff

Provide personal issue equipment.

 

If not personal issue, ensure equipment is cleaned with anti-bacterial agent before and after use.

 

Requirement for additional equipment

 

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

Travel in vehicles whilst at work and travel to work

Implement where appropriate, Government guidelines for  Vehicles.

www.gov.uk/workingsafely

 

Anti-bacterial wipes or cleaning materials to be provided in vehicles. Staff are required to wipe clean the surfaces in the vehicles at the start and end of their driving duties.

 

Sole occupancy of vehicles recommended. 

 

With multiple occupancy, max 2 people, if rear seating available,  seat one in the rear diagonally opposite the driver to maximise distancing, all occupants must wear masks throughout the journey.   Also consider the following:

 

Occupants face forward if both in the front seats

Windows kept open

Try to rota so the same pairs are sharing vehicles on each shift

Dashboard signage to remind of rules

 

Consider supplying masks for use on public transport for travel to and from work

 

Ensure all staff are briefed regarding Government guidelines.

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

 

Provision of masks

Staff exposed to possible infection whilst dealing with members of the public

Adhere to government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

 

Provision of PPE to staff to include face covering, hand sanitiser, gloves and eye protection.

 

Review Government guidance on use of PPE https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

 

Provide masks for any front line staff working within or close to hospital sites

Consider issuing staff with “distance reminder badges”.

 

Training of staff in the  use of equipment and in particular the proper fitting of face coverings.

 

Consideration to be given as to type of face covering to be issued. This could be a face mask and face goggles or a full visor.

 

Government guidance at the moment states that face masks are more for the protection of others rather than the wearer.

 

Threat to staff from confrontational situations including abuse and assault(spitting  or coughing at close range with coronavirus threats)

Ensure staff are trained on how to be aware of and how to diffuse escalating situations.

 

Provision of PPE to staff to include face covering, hand sanitiser, gloves and eye protection.

 

Review Government guidance on use of PPE https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

 

Use of radio or other communication device to call for assistance if required.

 

Try to ensure police support / good police relations / coms

 

If situation arises where PCN cannot be issued safely, back off and do not issue or, as an alternative and where permissible,  issue  Regulation 10 PCN where issue process had started.

 

Consider the supply of Bodycams to staff to act as a deterrent and also to provide evidence of any criminal act.

 

Consider the use of and explicit display of Spit Kits to staff to act as a deterrent and also to provide evidence of any criminal act.

 

Consideration to be given as to type of face covering to be issued. This could be a face mask and face goggles or a full visor.

 

Government guidance at the moment states that face masks are more for the protection of others rather than the wearer and offer little protection from close range spit or cough attacks.

 

It is recommended that for this particular risk, full visors or at least eye goggles and a mask be worn.

 

Delivery of conflict management training and training of staff in the use of equipment and in particular the proper fitting of face coverings.

 

Consider issuing staff with “distance reminder badges”.

 

Training of staff in the use of bodycams.

 

Training of staff in the use of Spit Kits.

 

Exposure to cross infection when coming into contact with pay machines.

 

Clean equipment with anti-bacterial materials before and after contact.

Issue staff with anti-bacterial cleaning materials and instructions on its use.

 

Provide gloves to be worn during cleaning and advise on safe disposal after use.

 

 

Exposure to cross infection when using public toilet facilities

Clean touch parts within the facility with anti-bacterial materials before and after use.

Issue staff with anti-bacterial wipes/cleaning materials and instructions on its use.

 

Provide hand sanitiser and recommend using after leaving the toilet facilities

 

List of suggested places to try for purchase of PPE which have been recommended by other BPA members:

Penham Excel - www.ppe-products.co.uk

AlsoPrint - https://www.alsoprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ALSOprint-Limited-Employee-Welfare-Catalogue-May-2020.pdf

Dynateck (also supply thermometers) – [email protected]

COVID19 Pre Visit Letter and Vulnerability Identification Phase

All enforcement visits were suspended by 23 March 2020 at the latest. All other activity, such as issuing of Notices of Enforcement, reminder letters and outbound calls was reduced. CIVEA members fully accept that to simply restart enforcement visits once the Government eases restrictions would not be acceptable.

Therefore, prior to recommencing any visits to customers, all CIVEA members will implement a Pre-visit Letter and Vulnerability Identification Phase. This will involve issuing a light touch reconnection letter, which uses a template based on wording provided by CIVEA, plus follow up communication e.g. by text, email, phone where possible. Firms will use the standard form letter unless their council clients require an alteration. The letter seeks to engage consistently with customers to understand how they have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and respond as appropriate. Each case will be offered support as appropriate, including signposting to the Money Advice Service and debt advice charities.

 

Enforcement visit suspension

When enforcement can resume following the lifting of emergency regulations, individuals will be given 30 days’ notice of a visit by an enforcement agent, unless the local authority has specific requirements. This is to provide sufficient opportunity for engagement with customers prior to the attendance of an Enforcement Agent, which could prevent additional fees being added to the outstanding debt

 

Training

All enforcement agents will be required to undertake additional, mandatory CIVEA-approved training prior to any recommencement of visits.

The newly-designed training programme will include: the effective use of protective equipment and social distancing requirements, how to protect themselves and those that they encounter in the community. This will be supplemented by refresher training on supporting the vulnerable and recognising mental health issues.

 

Pre-visit Assessment

Where a telephone number has been sourced and if appropriate to do so, CIVEA members will make outbound calls in advance of enforcement visits to identify any vulnerabilities or changes in circumstances.

 

Post-lockdown visits

Enforcement visits will restart after the government lockdown restrictions that cover such activity are lifted.

  • Agents will receive refresher training on how to identify any vulnerabilities or changes in circumstances.
  • Visits will be contactless in line with CIVEA safe working practices guidance
  • Enforcement agents will not enter premises to take control of goods
  • Where appropriate vulnerable people or those who have been severely impacted financially by the pandemic, e.g. loss of job, Statutory Sick Pay, will be referred to debt advice agencies for additional support.
  • In these circumstances, the case will be placed on hold to be monitored, with contact by welfare staff, as appropriate, prior to proceeding. The fees incurred will remain in place.
  • Vulnerable people will be referred to their creditor for additional support, where appropriate.

 

Data collection and recording

All CIVEA members will collect and record details of customer vulnerabilities, in line with data protection requirements e.g. customer consent, and develop support plans that reflect CIVEA’s guidance on assessing the impact of COVID-19 on households.

 

Provision of protective equipment

The majority of enforcement payments are made by telephone before an enforcement agent is required to visit or after a letter has been left. When visits are necessary, CIVEA will work with members to source sufficient workwear and hygiene supplies to protect and reassure staff and members of the public. Enforcement agents will practice social distancing, comply with enhanced hygiene techniques (including disinfecting their kit) and be issued with hand sanitizer.