Barry Gower, Secretary.
Brian Pickering, Treasurer.
David Wilkinson.
Len Shield.
Alice Severs.

  1. Apologies: George Barber. Unfortunately, and despite her best efforts, Linda Garbutt, our Chairwoman, was unable to join us.
  2. The minutes of the meeting on 10 March 2021 were accepted as a correct record. It was agreed that Brian would contact the person responsible for letting the room in the Carrville Methodist Church, with a view to our resuming use of it when the current restrictions allow us to do so.
  3. Membership:
    In due course, Durham County Council will nominate an elected member of the Council to serve in the Durham City Access For All Group, and the Group agreed that the Secretary should express appreciation to Katie Corrigan for serving in that capacity for a number of years. The Group has benefitted from her membership, not least through her help in securing funds to help with the launch of the Group’s new website.
    It was also agreed that the Secretary should express the Group’s pleasure at the re-election of Liz Brown to the Durham City Parish Council.
  4. Cathedral Access Panel:
    Linda and Barry were asked to contact the Chapter Clerk expressing the Group’s hope that with the re-opening of the Cathedral to visitors, steps would be taken to reinstate regular meetings of a Cathedral Access Panel.
  5. Pavement obstructions:
    Obstructions caused by vehicles parking on pavements in the City are a continuing problem, both for those with a visual impairment and for users of wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs. Notes explaining the current national debate about this matter are attached as an appendix to these minutes.
    Obstructions to pavements in the City are also occurring as a consequence of bars and restaurants needing outside seating for customers. Barry was asked to write to Liz Brown asking that the Planning Committee of the Durham City Parish Council take into account the difficulties that such obstructions can create for those with visual impairments and for wheelchair users, mobility scooter users and those with pushchairs and prams.
  6. The next meeting of the Group, which will be an online meeting via ‘zoom’, is on Wednesday 14 July 2021.

According to a national survey undertaken by the Department for Transport, 95% of visually impaired people reported a problem caused by pavement parking in a twelve month period, and 98% of wheelchair users reported similarly in the same period (see Pavement parking: options for change in GOV.UK). In general, obstructing the highway, including pavements, is a civil rather than a criminal matter though dangerous parking remains a criminal offence. Unnecessary obstruction of highway, including pavements, also remains a criminal offence, though there will of course be endless legal debate about what is ‘unnecessary’. For the most part, therefore, pavement parking is the responsibility of local authorities rather than the police. The current legal position is that, with the exception of Greater London, pavement parking is permitted unless specifically prohibited by a local authority. Such a prohibition requires a formal Traffic Regulation Order.
Pavement parking bans consequent on a Traffic Regulation Order would require permanent notices on streets saying where and when the ban applies. In other words the ban would operate like yellow lines and parking restrictions and would be enforced using Civil Enforcement Officers and Penalty Charge Notices stuck on windscreens. The implication of this is that although almost all local authorities have the power to make a Traffic Regulation Order banning pavement parking, few have used that power. The Department for Transport has recently (in 2020) conducted a survey asking for views on how best to proceed given that it recognises the problems encountered by disabled people and other as a consequence of pavement parking. Had your Secretary been more alert, he would have responded to the survey on behalf of the Group. The available options appear to be: (1) legislate to make Traffic Regulation Orders less burdensome for local authorities to introduce and enforce; (2) legislate to make ‘unnecessary obstruction of pavements’ subject to Penalty Charge Notices by Civil Enforcement Officers; (3) legislate to prohibit pavement parking nationally, with exceptions identified locally (as with Greater London).