MOTORISTS will be fined for parking on pavements if proposals which would hand pedestrians legal rights to footpaths are approved.

Campaigners for pedestrians and the disabled welcomed the introduction of a long-awaited bill to ban cars from blocking pavements in Scotland, but there were also warnings that councils must provide drivers with alternative parking in areas where vehicle congestion is high.

The Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill would make it an offence to park on footways or drop kerbs and would outlaw double parking.

It was submitted to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday after more than a decade of delays and legal wranglings.

The case has been taken up by SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White, having been initiated in 2003 by former Liberal Democrat MSP Ross Finnie and subsequently adopted by SNP MSP Joe Fitzpatrick.

Mr Finnie's bill ran out of time and Mr Fitzpatrick became a government minister, preventing him from putting forward a member's bill.

There are also question marks over the legal definititions of "pavement" and "obstruction", and whether control over the law change would rest with Holyrood or Westminster.

Ms White said she had received letters and emails of support from all over Scotland, and was adding that the problem was highlighted in her own constituency by the plight of elderly residents at the Overnewton sheltered housing complex in Yorkhill, in the west end of Glasgow.

She said: "Sometimes these people can't get out of the building in a wheelchair because there's cars parked up on the pavement, so they're stuck in the house. We also had a case of a blind gentleman whose stick caught in one of the wheels of a car and that man was stranded for a couple of hours on a pavement until somebody came along and helped him to get home.

"These are the sorts of incidents that are happening all the time."

The bill has the support of traffic wardens, charities for the disabled such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, and pedestrian champion, Living Streets.

Jane Horsburgh, of Guide Dogs Scotland, said legislation "can't come soon enough" for visually impaired people.

"Pavement parking is a critical issue for guide dog owners," she added.

Under the current law, only driving on the pavement is prohibited unless councils have passed specific traffic regulations.

Stuart Hay, director of Living Streets Scotland, said pavement parking was the number one complaint by people contacting the charity.

He added: "Pavements are for pedestrians, not vehicles, and parking on them causes inconvenience and danger. The time for action is now as existing powers don't work and are seldom used by the police or local authorities."

However, there were fears the bill might penalise drivers in some residential areas with where pavement parking was necessary to leave enough room for other vehicles to pass.

Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute for Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: "If councils are to ban pavement parking on areas where it is long established then they should provide alternatives such as off road parking rather than just hoping the problem will disappear."

The bill is expected to go to Holyrood's Local Government Committee for scrutiny.