Spotlight on problems relating to grass verge parking

Public access and environmental problems caused by cars repeatedly being parked on grass verges in Wolverhampton are set to be addressed by council bosses.

Grass verges in Wolverhampton are being damaged due to vehicles repeatedly parking on them
Grass verges in Wolverhampton are being damaged due to vehicles repeatedly parking on them

The city’s environmental services team doesn’t currently undertake any repairs to damaged grass verges where the underlying problem of vehicles churning up the land still exists.

This is because any maintenance work will be destroyed almost immediately, thereby wasting money and resources.

A report is set to go to the council’s scrutiny board next week, highlighting the extent of the problem across the city and exploring a number of possibilities for tackling it.

As well as damaging grass verges, the issue can also present access problems for visually impaired or disabled people.

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment and climate change, said: “Unfortunately, parking on grass verges is a persistent problem for many locations in the city and often repairs we make are destroyed almost immediately by further parking.

“Currently, it is not an offence to park on a grass verge, unless it is dangerous, causing an obstruction or causing damage. In these instances, it becomes a matter for the police.

“As a council, the only action we could take is in relation to damage to the verge and we would need to prove beyond reasonable doubt the damage caused by each vehicle present and provide reliable witnesses who are willing to testify.

“We have previously written to the Department for Transport about this issue to ask for similar powers to deal with pavement parking as those that exist in London. A national consultation on pavement parking has been carried out to strengthen traffic regulation orders. If measures included in the consultation are implemented, they will give the council more tools and powers to act,” he added.

“We would ask motorists to please consider others, particularly those with visual or mobility impairments, when parking and to help us look after our grass verges for everyone to enjoy.”

The report says: “Verge areas are not regarded as places where people are expected to walk, so they are not required to be maintained to the same standard as footways in terms of trip hazards, potholes, etc.

“Where there are multiple reports of verge parking we will investigate accordingly where we can. There are two pieces of legislation that could, in theory, be used. However, both have their pitfalls and require the actual perpetrator to be identified beyond all reasonable doubt.

“As neither offence allows the use of covert surveillance in accordance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), we are reliant on reliable witnesses willing to testify. To date we have had very few residents willing to come forward.

“We have consulted colleagues in other authorities and also taken internal and external legal advice. Unfortunately neither avenue has helped identify an enforcement approach that could work. In view of these limitations, enforcement has been ruled out as a potential solution,” it added.

The council’s scrutiny board is due to discuss the issue next Tuesday.

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