In general, enforcement of parking restrictions outside London is a matter for the police. Under the Road Traffic Act 1991, local authorities may take over responsibility for on-street parking enforcement from the police on a decriminalised basis. The transfer has been a success in London, and we welcome applications from authorities elsewhere.
What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that proper consultation takes place between authorities and local residents? In two areas in my constituency—Crookes and Abbeydale—little consultation appears to have taken place before the introduction of parking restrictions and road alterations, although consultation is now taking place. That cannot be the right way to function—or can it?
My hon. Friend is right: proper consultation with a view to building a consensus is important, and the Government guidelines require authorities to review all their existing restrictions before taking on enforcement to ensure that restrictions are used only where genuinely necessary.
Parking restrictions in London—particularly central London—are a joke. Some local authorities are enforcing and some are not. Of those that are enforcing, some are using it as a fund-raising exercise, rather than the sensible application of regulations. There are people parking on double yellow lines who put on their hazard warning lights and think that they have dematerialised. It is time that the police stepped in and took more effective action, instead of zooming around London in large vans keeping their helmets dry. They should do something about enforcing proper parking restrictions in London so that public and private transport can move easily.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should take up his complaints with Labour London authorities which chose to have the powers of parking enforcement. As he should know, the police are responsible for enforcement on red routes in London, but local authorities enforce everywhere else. I suggest that he talk to some of his Labour party colleagues about their deficiencies.
Will my hon. Friend accept that in the past 20 years—thanks to the changes the Government have made in London—the number of free metered parking spaces in Westminster at any one time has gone up from 5 to 30 per cent., not only making it easier for motorists to find space, but reducing traffic and pollution by a compensating amount?