The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Ms R complains the Council has not granted requests for controlled parking in her street. The Council has advised it is undertaking a wider review of parking in the town. The Ombudsman sees no evidence or administrative fault, so cannot question the merits of the Council’s decision.
- The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Ms R, complains the Council has failed to act on requests for a residents’ only parking zone covering her road.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- The information I have seen includes:
- the documents Ms R supplied with her complaint;
- the Council’s responses under its complaints procedure;
- information about the Council’s consultation and news items from its website;
- the Council’s response to our informal enquiries;
What I found
- Most parking controls, including controlled parking zones (CPZ), are introduced through Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO). The procedures for creating a TRO are set out in the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure)(England and Wales) Regulations 1996.
- Councils will often carry out some informal consultation in an area before deciding whether to go through the formal process of making a TRO.
- The formal procedure consists of:
- Consultation with various bodies;
- Publication of the proposals;
- 21 days for persons to object to the proposal;
- Consideration of objections;
- Making an order within two years of the end of the objection period.
The Council’s principles for residents’ parking schemes
- The Council says its principles for introducing schemes are:
- There must be a problem that makes it difficult for residents to find a parking space near their home.
- The area covered by the scheme will normally be large enough to meet the anticipated demand. This is to minimise the displacement of residents’ vehicles to other locations.
- Schemes must not have a significant negative impact on the wider road network.
- Schemes must have a mixture of residents’ only spaces and limited waiting spaces. But schemes could not provide dedicated spaces outside permit holders’ homes and did not guarantee a parking space.
- Costs are a relevant consideration.
- Blue badge holders are usually exempted from schemes.
- Ms R lives in a residential street with few garages or driveways. She says residents have been in correspondence with the Council for years about issues with parking. The Council advised it could not introduce a scheme with nominated parking bays, as the road is a public highway.
- In January 2018 the Council posted a news item on its website, that it was planning to carry out a review of on-street parking in the town in which Ms R lives. It advised it was sending letters to residents asking for their comments on whether they would support residents’ parking.
- The Council’s consultation outline advised there were no detailed plans and the purpose of the consultation was to seek the views of the community. The end of the consultation period was the end of June.
- In February Ms R and her neighbours sent the Council a petition signed by 18 residents about their parking situation. Later Ms R complained about the Council’s lack of action about the issue. Its response advised Ms R of the wider review, that included her road.
- Ms R complained to the Ombudsman. We made some informal enquiries to the Council. It advised it had collated the consultation responses and was preparing a report that would be considered by a Traffic Orders Committee. The date of that Committee had been rescheduled for early December.
Was there fault by the Council?
- I understand that Ms R feels strongly about the parking issues with her street. Her view is the Council has not taken the situation seriously. But the Council’s own principles stop it agreeing to a residents’ parking scheme on a single street, because that has the risk of simply displacing activity to adjacent streets. It is not the Ombudsman’s role to question the Council’s policy or procedures where, as here, they are compatible with national rules and regulations.
- CPZs are often controversial or unpopular. So councils will usually carry out some informal consultation, before deciding whether to go through the formal process of making a TRO. That is what happened here. I see no fault with the approach, so, again, it is not one we can criticise the merits of.
- I do not uphold the complaint, as I see no evidence of fault. I have completed my investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman