Councils To Get Additional Traffic Powers

Wed 23rd Jun 2021

Cash-strapped local authorities could be ready to press go on a series of measures which will see them issue fines for a range of driving offences which have previously been the jurisdiction of traffic police.

A statement from the Department for Transport this week has revealed that councils will be given the authority to hit drivers with fines of up to £70 for stopping in box junctions, crossing into cycle lanes and making banned turns. 

While drivers have always been liable to be punished for the offences, which are listed in the Highway Code, it is only motorists in London and Cardiff who have been hit with Penalty Charge Notices.

Baroness Vere, Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Transport announced the news this week. Speaking at a transport industry event she said:  “Local authorities will need the tools to manage roads in the way that best serves local needs, which may vary in different parts of the country, and it is this ethos of localism that lies behind our decision to give more powers to local authorities under the Traffic Management Act.

“So from December, local authorities will be able to enforce moving traffic offences, such as banned turns, box junctions and driving in formal cycle lanes. 

“They will be expected to use these powers to improve connectivity, boost active travel, and increase air quality by reducing congestion.

“And to ensure this change is fair, we will publish guidance for local authorities, so they can make drivers aware that enforcement is being undertaken.”

The difficulty of enforcing some of these offences has previously been a barrier to issuing punishments, however the use of cameras and number plate recognition technology has led to a proliferation of fines in London. The RAC is concerned that some authorities will be ‘over enthusiastic’ about the use, seeing them as a key revenue stream.

“While the Government has pledged to give councils advice on how best to let drivers know enforcement is taking place, what's really needed is clear guidance on making sure enforcement is always carried out fairly,” RAC spokesman Simon Williams said in the Daily Mail.

“Drivers who blatantly ignore signage or highway rules should expect penalties, but there are instances which are not always clear-cut. 

“For example, large yellow box junctions can be particularly problematic to get across without stopping, often due to their design, so it's important common sense is applied rather than instantly issuing penalties to drivers.”