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Lord Holmes calls for a Private Members’ Bill to end the ‘misery’ caused by pavement parking

Guide Dogs

4 min read Partner content

MPs and peers from across party lines join with the charity Guide Dogs in fight against pavement parking.

As the new parliament gets underway, MPs are keen to engage with prominent charities to discuss their priorities for the coming term, which is why so many attended a Guide Dogs event last week.

Over 180 Parliamentarians queued up to be awarded a star on the Guide Dogs’ pavement parking walk of fame, which was intended to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by blind and partially-sighted people when parked cars block pavements.

As James White, Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs, said: "Cars parked on pavements blight the lives of people living with sight loss and other vulnerable road users including wheelchair users and parents with buggies or prams.

"Imagine how frightening it must be to step out into a busy road when you can't see on-coming traffic, or you have your young child with you.

"We want to stop people from being forced into the road and we call on all parties to support a new law on pavement parking."

The reception attracted many high-profile members of the Government, including Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Environment Secretary Liz Truss, International Development Secretary Justine Greening, as well as numerous influential backbenchers, peers and new MPs.

Pavement parking is already an offence in London, but rules for the rest of the country are less clear. The charity would like to see a nationwide law, which would still allow councils to apply an exemption in certain areas where it is unavoidable. 

The event was hosted by Conservative peer and guide dog owner Lord Holmes who told the audience that pavement parking “doesn’t just make blind people’s life a misery, frankly it makes everyone’s life a misery.

“Why would you want a situation where guide dog owners, young families and people with push chairs have to step into oncoming traffic because there are cars blocking the pavement?... We have a crazy situation in this country – an Alice in Wonderland situation – where we have the cars on the pavement and the pedestrians in the roadway.

Lord Holmes called upon those MPs who have yet to choose a Private Members’ Bill to consider taking up Guide Dogs’ campaign to end pavement parking.

The cause was taken up in the last parliament by former Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood who championed it in a Private Members’ Bill. Although the Bill did not progress due to time constraints, Guide Dogs is grateful that the profile was raised and is hopeful that another MP will choose to advance it this time around.

Shadow Transport Minister, Richard Burden, who also spoke at the event, said it was an “issue that all of us know about as our constituents raise it with us time and time again. It does blight many communities and many areas…

“It means taking to the road as pedestrian when you simply shouldn’t have to do that. We all know that the current patchwork of laws on pavement parking are not easily understandable. The end result is that it is dangerous. The work Guide Dogs has been doing to raise awareness of this issue is very important.”

Among the crowd gathered at the event was Labour MP for East Ham Stephen Timms, who said he had been urged by some of his constituents to attend and was always interested to hear what Guide Dogs had to say.

He raised concerns more generally over the potential impact of planned public spending cuts on people with disabilities, saying he thought it was “very likely that we are going to need to do a lot on these issues once we have heard more details on the Government’s £12bn cuts to the welfare budget. My worry is that, once we hear that package, there are going to real problems facing disabled people that we are going to need to work very hard on.”

Conservative MP for Bristol North West Charlotte Leslie was equally receptive to the Guide Dogs’ campaign, and suggested that there needed to be more awareness of it throughout the country. 

She said: “It’s something that many people do. Often people feel that they are helping the traffic flow by doing it but don’t understand what a difficulty it causes for people with visual impairments and other people with disabilities as well.

“It is sometimes very easy to walk on by without noticing until an organisation like this flags up what an enormous issue it is for so many people, who individually don’t have a voice, but collectively they do.”  

This collective voice is growing steadily in volume and in confidence and if last night’s event is anything to go by, Parliament seems to be listening.

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