When is a pavement not a pavement? Some say when it is in Preston’s shared space.
But confusion reigns along the city’s main shopping street over whether it is legal to leave your car on the pedestrian areas of Fishergate, or whether you risk getting nicked.
According to Preston Police they don’t have the power to book anyone, or tow a car away for obstructing the walkway, because “it’s shared space, so there’s no footpath to obstruct.”
But County Hall’s view is totally different. To them a pavement is a pavement, is a pavement - wherever it happens to be. No doubt in the minds of the highways authority whatsoever.
The confusion began innocently enough this week when a car was towed away by the local constabulary after it had been parked on nearby Tithebarn Street. It was, said the police on Twitter, obstructing the footpath.
When asked why they didn’t do the same to vehicles parked on Fishergate, they claimed they couldn’t because, being shared space, the street didn’t have proper footpaths.
Later, seeking to clarify the issue, a Lancashire Police spokesperson said: “We only deal with cars which are causing an unnecessary obstruction or are in a dangerous position. Everything else is dealt with by the council.”
The rule of thumb, explained the spokesperson, was: “If you can get a double buggy through then it’s not causing an obstruction.” The car on Tithebarn Street had failed the buggy test.
County Hall officers, from their prime position overlooking Fishergate, are adamant the street has real pavements and they should be respected by motorists - or else.
Having booked dozens of drivers - at £70 a throw - for parking in pedestrian areas, officers say it is just like any other road in the city centre.
Paul Riley from Lancashire Parking Services said: “It’s important to be very clear that parking on the pavements in this area is prohibited and subject to a £70 penalty charge notice. This has not changed.
“Parking inappropriately blocks pathways for people shopping, working and getting around the city centre. We carry out patrols around the city centre and drivers parked inappropriately could receive a £70 penalty charge notice.”