Back in October 2019, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced that local authorities outside London would soon be granted the powers to enforce moving traffic contraventions under the Transport Management Act 2004. This move was welcomed by councils across the UK as well as the British Parking Association and technology suppliers. The fact that these powers are currently restricted to local authorities in London and Wales is widely seen as inequitable.
This situation is having a major impact on the ability of councils across the UK to maintain road safety standards and reduce congestion in order to minimise the air pollution caused by vehicles sitting in queues with their engines idling.
This proposed change in legislation will enable local authorities across the UK to assume responsibility for enforcing moving traffic contraventions such as box junctions, banned turns, restricted access, weight limits and bus gates. This is significant as many local authorities are reporting that the police are no longer carrying out this enforcement due to budget cuts and manpower shortages. As a result, drivers are able to flout the rules of the road at will without fear of detection.
But this legislation is just one of the traffic-based issues that need to be resolved at government level. It is often said that the way that successive governments have addressed major issues such as this has demonstrated their inability to demonstrate anything that remotely resembles joined-up thinking.
An example of this confusion can be seen in the way that the enforcement of clean air zones, low emission zones and moving traffic contraventions are managed. There are three different government departments involved in parking, traffic, road safety and air pollution, all of which operate independently with no apparent sharing of data or philosophy.
This has resulted in different pieces of legislation being drawn up relating to the way that CCTV cameras can be used. They include:
• Clean Air Act
• Transport Management Act
• Road User Charging Act
It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that it would have been better to have a single piece of legislation about how cameras can be used instead of the government’s COAD legislation (Certification of Approved Device) which imposes different certification requirements for the use of cameras based on type of scheme such as CAZ, ULEZ, road user congestion charging, parking and traffic enforcement. As well as being costly to manage, this legislation has resulted in inconsistency and confusion for drivers as well as for councils that are being asked to implement these schemes.
This is also causing massive waste as multiple certificates are needed to use cameras for multiple activities. The result of this is higher procurement and maintenance costs as well as increased street furniture. It really makes no sense to force councils to procure and install separate cameras to enforce different contraventions particularly when they are trying to streamline their services and reduce costs in the face of extreme budgetary pressures.
The government has demonstrated no apparent will to change despite the clear links between traffic congestion, road safety, parking and air pollution. This disjointed approach is making the situation more complex than it needs to be. It is time that the government had a major rethink as to what outcomes it needs to deliver over what period in order to address the priorities and demonstrate it is serious about tackling these issues.
Tim Daniels is a Director at Videalert, one of the UK’s leading providers of intelligent traffic enforcement and management solutions.