Verging on madness

PUBLISHED: 17:28 11 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 06 May 2010

DRIVERS can park their vehicles on grass verges across Comet country and there is very little local authorities can do about it. Pavements, kerbs and grassed areas are being damaged by drivers rolling up onto pathways and grass verges yet councils are lim

DRIVERS can park their vehicles on grass verges across Comet country and there is very little local authorities can do about it.

Pavements, kerbs and grassed areas are being damaged by drivers rolling up onto pathways and grass verges yet councils are limited in how they can control or limit this practice.

In Hitchin and Baldock there is currently no legislation which specifically prohibits the parking of cars and small vans on the verges.

In Letchworth GC and Stevenage, where according to one council leaflet the "majority of verges are now affected [by verge parking or damage] and it is impossible to keep up with the demand for action to be taken", there are byelaws available which can lead to criminal proceedings.

However these can only be used when council officers actually "witness" somebody driving onto a verge or where, in Stevenage's case, the council can instead obtain several eye-witness accounts of the motorist's actions.

In both towns the possibility of taking drivers to court is deemed too expensive as it is unlikely that the council will recoup all of its costs.

Other powers available to try to combat these problems are also limited.

Traffic regulation orders, which are available for councils to serve penalty charge notices to drivers, take time to put in place.

Other powers, including those given to the Hertfordshire Constabulary under the Road Traffic Act 1988, only relate to heavy commercial vehicles on verges and footpaths.

Cllr Judi Billing, councillor for the Hitchin Bearton ward, said: "Grass verge parking is a real problem in residential areas like Bearton where some of the streets were well designed with lovely green verges and spaces, but could never accommodate today's number of cars and parking needs.

"We have to do something about it soon just to ensure a decent quality of life for our residents."

In an attempt to try to combat the problem in Hitchin, at the town's last committee meeting it was mentioned that, although a new byelaw "was not a feasible option", a report should be presented at the next meeting on October 31 with details about problem areas and ways in which these could be addressed.

In the meantime, a council spokesman said the main initiative in Hitchin "will be the introduction of controlled parking zones in Benslow and Triangle areas."

A Stevenage Borough Council spokesman said: "The council is aware of those streets where severe parking congestion exists and in those circumstances prefers to deal with verge parking by introducing physical measures either to increase the availability of off-street parking facilities or to prevent verge parking occurring rather than by prosecution through the magistrates' court.


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