Created: 06 March 2012
Bob introduced the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Bill for its second reading in the House. This is the third Bill to be promoted by the boroughs and Transport for London since TFL came into existence. Separately, the London boroughs have promoted no fewer than 10 London local authorities Bills of their own and TFL has promoted three of its own over the years. It is therefore fair to say that Bills of this nature are not uncommon—far from it, in fact. This form of localism has been practised over many years and it has been so successful that Governments of all parties have taken sections from the provisions pioneered in London local authorities Bills and advanced them in national legislation. Bob reviewed this Bill’s provisions at a Brent Council Meeting in 2006 when he was Deputy Leader of Brent Council, and he helped initiate this draft Bill when he served on the Greater London Authority.
Bob laid out the history of the Bill and the reasons for Clause 17, relating to pedicabs, being dropped. Clauses 4 and 5 will enable London authorities to attach street lamps and signs to buildings (except theatres) without requiring the consent of their owner or occupier. They must, however, serve notice on the owner of the building in question and to take any representations into account; there will be a statutory code of practice, and compensation will favour the property owner. This will bring the rest of London into line with the City. The intention is to avoid cluttering streets with more and more street furniture; that is a particular concern right across London
Clauses 6 and 7, which deal with damage to highways, will enable London authorities to recover the cost of repairs to the carriageway from the firms—not just the footway as the current law provides—where damage is caused by construction traffic. The measures will also enable them to require by way of a planning condition a deposit before construction work commences. That will be warmly welcomed across London, where construction traffic frequently causes damage not only to footways but to the public highway. It is often very difficult for local authorities to recover funding for dealing with that.
Part 3 concerns builders’ skips and its main purpose is to decriminalise offences relating to such skips, such as putting them out without a licence or not properly lighting or protecting them. Such actions are a menace to road users of all types and the Bill enables the highway authority to require information about who the owner of the skip is in order to determine on whom penalty charge notices should be served. Clause 10 provides that the owner of the builder’s skip will be liable to pay any penalty charge arising from a contravention. Representations may be made against the imposition of penalty charges, and appeals made to an adjudicator, much like the existing parking regime in London. Part 3 will also alter the powers of the highway authority to place conditions on giving permission for placing a skip on the highway and enable the authority to insist that the skip have lights or a guard, or a system of guarding, as an integral part of the skip. Once again, that is a key part of ensuring the safety of all road users.
To clarify, the position is that these are already offences in law. However, as things stand, there is no capability for local authorities to do anything about them or take enforcement action in London. The purpose behind these measures is to enable local authorities to enforce the rules and ensure that penalties are served on those who indiscriminately place skips on the public highway out with the proper conditions, without proper protection and without proper lighting.
Clause 16 deals with interference with barriers and makes it an offence to open, close or interfere, without lawful excuse, with a barrier that is erected by a traffic authority which is intended to prevent the passage of vehicles or any class of vehicles into, out of or along a highway.
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