TapParking Enforcement in Bristol

I was at a neighbourhood forum recently where a manager from Bristol City Parking Services gave a presentation about what they do. It was enlightening! The rules all changed as a consequence of the de-criminalisation of parking offences in 2000 and has been extended since then. Note that although the rules are national, each council has its own way of enforcing them so not all of this may apply elsewhere.

In summary—what the council enforce using Penalty Charge Notices (fines) are yellow lines, school zig-zags, crossing zig-zags, pedestrian dropped kerbs, double parking and bus lanes. What they don’t control, unless covered by one of the above, is pavement parking, driveways, parking on private land and untaxed vehicles.

Yellow Lines

A change that has occurred since I took my driving test is that double yellow lines always mean “at any time” across the country and don’t require a notice. Single lines are for a proportion of the day and there will be a notice to indicate the period but most are Monday–Saturday 0800–1800. Parking is leaving the vehicle unattended. Loading/unloading is permitted unless otherwise restricted but must be visible in ANY five minute period that the warden observes—so no locking up and going for a coffee.

Loading/Unloading restrictions

These are indicated by dashes on the kerb and are the same as yellow lines – double for 24/7, single for lesser periods. The old triple dash has been abolished. They have the same force as the “clearway” and you are not even supposed to stop when these are in force even to drop a passenger, though presumably you need to be able to read the sign.

Both of these restrictions (yellow lines and clearway) apply from the centre of the road to edge of the highway—which includes the footpath—so no parking inside them as I have heard suggested and no cars hanging out of the forecourt over the pavement.

School Zig-zags

It wasn’t clear if they are all enforced but certainly some are by arrangement with the school concerned. They are treated like a clearway so no dropping your children off in the nice empty space outside the gates, that is not what they are for.

Crossing zig-zags

These are similar but only apply to on road parking, they don’t extend to the footpath. The police retain the authority to enforce these as well, and their fixed penalty notices override the parking ticket (and have greater penalties).

Pedestrian dropped kerbs

Put in place to aid wheelchair users and child buggies, these are the slopes near road junctions, usually with knobbly paving but no sign is required. The rules have been in place since March 2010 but they are only enforced if they are in pairs, one on each side of the road to avoid confusion with driveways. You can’t park overlapping the dropped kerb by any amount.

Double parking

Technically this means parking more than 50cm from the kerb but the wardens don’t carry tape measures so in practice it needs to be blatant before it is enforced. Note that the wording seems to cover ad-hoc diagonal parking. Loading/unloading is tolerated for 20 minutes when double parked or next to a dropped kerb, but it had better be obvious.

Disabled Badges

Holders of disabled permits can park in SOME otherwise restricted places. This includes yellow lines for up to three hours unless causing an obstruction but NOT on clearways where loading/unloading restrictions are in place. He also commented that there was a proposal to get an outside contractor to enforce the misuse of badges,

Bus Lanes

This is the only area where the Parking Services officers are interested in moving traffic. Where implemented they are enforced by CCTV and contraventions sent by post. It is
currently done by three operators and a supervisor not by automatic numberplate recognition and requires a separate officer to confirm before a notice is sent.


Queries can be directed to the control room 0117 9038070 which is manned Monday–Saturday 0600–2400 and Sunday 0830–1630. This for both the motorist and to report problem areas but they can’t respond instantly to an obstruction. The procedure for appeal is shown on the enforcement notice and, if there is doubt it is worth trying—they readily admit that their officers are fallible. The roadside is not the place to argue and offensive behaviour is not tolerated.

Other parking offences

Anything not listed above has to be referred to the police. This includes pavement parking, parking on junctions and blocking of driveways all where there are no yellow lines. In order for them to act there needs to be a complaint of obstruction—i.e. someone needs to be obstructed. In the case of driveways an obstruction normally needs to be to exit the property not enter it and there must be a dropped kerb (haulage-way). Untaxed (and uninsured vehicles) are now managed by the DVLA and are currently being enforced using roving camera cars with number plate recognition.

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