Greater Manchester Could Be Among The First English Authorities Outside Of London To Enforce Certain Traffic Offences

The move would see drivers coughing up fines to councils rather than the police if they drive the wrong way up a one way street or stop in yellow box areas.

Combined authority bosses hope to persuade the government to devolve the responsibility to enforce ‘moving traffic offences’, powers already in force in London.

Despite the government saying it currently has ‘no plans’ to extend the powers to town halls outside of the capital, GMCA has included the proposal in its Made to Move cycling and walking blueprint.

Bosses say the enforcement powers would help crackdown on ‘inconsiderate behaviour’ on the region’s road network – a stance backed by the Local Government Association (LGA).

However, a leading motoring organisation has voiced concerns it could be used to ‘milk confused drivers for cash’ to boost depleted council coffers.

A spokesperson for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said: “Inconsiderate behaviour on our roads is one of the main reasons cited for not walking and cycling.

“It shouldn’t require bravery to cross a street or ride to school but that’s exactly how all too many people feel at the moment.

“As part of the Mayor’s Congestion Deal, we are examining what else needs to be done to educate drivers and to enforce moving traffic offences more effectively, and we are actively developing strategies to tackle anti-social and dangerous behaviour on our roads.”

Legislation in the Traffic Management Act 2004 enables ministers to hand the powers over to local authorities and the LGA has been at the forefront of a campaign in recent years for a roll-out outside of London.

Coun Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “Giving councils outside London the power to also tackle impatient drivers who break the law and put others at risk in an effort to shave seconds off their journey would unquestionably help ease congestion which will reduce costs for businesses, reduce pollution and make roads safer for everyone.

“Very little is currently done to stop the minority of inconsiderate drivers who block cycle lanes and bus lanes, pull up in cycle boxes at traffic lights and clog box junctions causing long tailbacks in rush hour.

“Not only do these needless infringements cause frustration to responsible motorists, they can also put cyclists at risk by forcing them into busy traffic.”

The GMCA would not be drawn on whether, if granted the devolved powers, the level of fines would be set on an individual basis by the region’s 10 districts or whether a GM rate would be established.

A case has not yet been submitted to Westminster but the Made to Move document states ‘discussions with national government…will continue.’

The TfGM spokesperson said ‘we hope to give an update about next steps later in the year.’

Councils outside of London can only enforce fines for driving in bus lanes or breaking parking regulations.

The calls for devolved powers are not universally supported, however, with the AA warning it could become ‘an income stream without checks’.

A spokesperson said: “The experience in London is that some yellow box junctions are little more than fines traps because it is virtually impossible in some cases to tell if the exit will be free.

“This may be because you can’t see that part of the junction or that lane filtering leading to lights leaves cars straddling the lines and taking up space. This then leaves cars behind stranded in the box when the drivers might reasonably have expected to have completed the manoeuvre.

“Drivers don’t go looking for fines and, if they’re still being caught in their thousands months after the cameras were set up, it’s clear the restrictions don’t work, the enforcement doesn’t work and the only reason to continue is to milk confused drivers for cash.”

And GMCA bosses will need central government to soften its current stance on the issue.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The government has no current plans to enable local authorities in England outside London to enforce yellow box junctions or other ‘moving traffic‘ offences.

“These offences are a matter for the police, who may issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) accordingly.”

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