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MSPs to back law banning parking on pavements

MOTORISTS face a ban on parking on pavements or alongside other parked cars and dropped kerbs under plans expected to be widely backed by MSPs today.

Charities representing older people, wheelchair users and other vulnerable groups have thrown their weight behind legislation designed to prevent pedestrian access to pavements being blocked.

Emergency services have also supported the measures, with Strathclyde Fire and Rescue saying double-parked vehicles can be "a matter of life or death" if they slow down fire engines.

However, some councils, including Glasgow, fear the measures will prove impractical in areas where there is not sufficient road space to accommodate residential parking and that enforcing the measures will impose a new layer of red tape on officials.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists cautioned the move could lead to problems being transferred between streets.

Under current laws, driving on pavements or obstructing access to a pavement are illegal – a situation described as confusing by campaigners who claim drivers are rarely prosecuted.

A Private Members' Bill was proposed in the last Scottish Parliament by the then LibDem MSP Ross Finnie. It aimed to give councils greater powers to ban parking on pavements, but was not progressed. It was relaunched by Joe FitzPatrick, the SNP MSP for Dundee City West, in March and then taken over by Sandra White, a Glasgow list MSP, in the summer.

A final draft of the plans will be unveiled at Holyrood today, but it has already been backed by 34 MSPs from four parties – enough to ensure it progresses to the formal bill stage.

Ms White said the proposal was about "justice and fairness" for pedestrians. She added: "There are a lot of people using wheelchairs or with toddlers in buggies who cannot get on to pavements because of inconsiderate parking. It's not unusual to see cars parked with all four wheels on the pavement, which isn't right. Pavements are for people and roads are for cars."

Among the 21 charities who form the Responsible Parking Alliance are Age Scotland, Capability Scotland, the pedestrian campaign group Living Streets and sustainable transport lobby groups Sustrans and Transform.

A spokeswoman for Guide Dogs Scotland, another supportive charity, said parked cars were the second-biggest obstacle after tree branches for those with visual impairment.

Under the proposed bill, a blanket ban on parking on pavements would apply unless councils implemented an exemption for certain areas using a traffic regulation order.

However, there were differing views on how widely these exemptions would apply. Ms White said yesterday they would be needed only for exceptional circumstances, in cul-de-sacs or in places where they could restrict access by emergency services.

But the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities claimed this would lead to thousands of exemptions being issued where it was not practical to implement a ban.

The measures were welcomed by Edinburgh City Council, which saw the legality of hundreds of fines issued to drivers who have doubled parked since February this year thrown into doubt after a successful challenge by one motorist.

David Goodhew, director of operations at Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, welcomed the proposals. He said: "Anything that frees up our streets to allow swift passage of our appliances has got to be a good thing. Delays caused by double parking or parking on tight corners or street ends can be a matter of life or death."

People using wheelchairs or with toddlers in buggies cannot get on to pavements because of inconsiderate parking

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