Are you up to date with the rules on loading bays?  It seems many delivery drivers and couriers aren’t.  And new research suggests we are paying hefty penalties for the confusion.

Research published in August this year by Volkswagen Commercial vehicles has found that UK van drivers have been issued with more than £1.7 million in fines since 2015 as a result of loading bay violations.

Freedom of Information requests

This shocking figure has emerged as a result of a series of Freedom of Information requests made by the researchers.  Of the 51 UK councils that were contacted, 45 responded.  It is this data that has formed the basis of the findings.

In total, the councils had issued around 13,000 tickets every year to drivers who were incorrectly parked in loading bays.  The 13,000 figure is an average worked out over the four years since 2015.  However, in practice, the number of fines issued has increased by approximately ten percent year on year.  This indicates the problem of fines being issued for loading bay violations is steadily but surely getting worse.

Significant differences between council authorities

There were significant differences between the different council areas. The top three issuing authorities were Glasgow, Manchester and Haringey.

The numbers of penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued over the surveyed period (2015 – 2019) by the top ten issuing authorities are as follows:

Haringey, Newham, Camden, Barnet are boroughs of Greater London

The survey authors did not offer any explanations as to why the Glasgow figure should be so high, or to explain the discrepancies more generally.  Glasgow issued PCNs at a rate three times higher than the next council (Manchester).

It may be that there are more loading bays in Glasgow, that the bays are enforced more comprehensively in the city, or that drivers are more confused about the rules.  Further research will be required to fully understand the causes behind the increasing number of fines being issued.

A more cynical commentator might suggest that PCNs are a cheap way to boost revenue for local councils that are increasingly cash-strapped under the austerity measures that have now been in place for nearly a decade.

Statement by survey authors

Head of marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Sarah Cox, commented: “As this research reveals, PCNs are costing businesses thousands of pounds a year when, in fact, they can be completely avoided if you understand the rules correctly.”

She went on to highlight one serious problem that could be leading to greater confusion: the lack of uniformity in loading bay rules.

Cox continued: “Loading bays are an essential part of the red route network as they allow businesses to access central locations to make and receive important deliveries.  As the rules change between councils, it is crucial that you check before you park.”

Understand the rules

As Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles spokesperson Sarah Cox made clear, it is important to double check the rules on loading bays with any local council in whose boundaries you operate as a driver.

In the majority of loading bays, the rules state that vans can only use the loading bays if they are being used to collect or deliver pre-ordered goods that require a vehicle to transport them.

If the vehicle is left unattended for any reason, including for the purposes of collecting or delivering the item, it must be made clear that goods are in the process of being loaded or unloaded.

While these rules are the norm, we reiterate the need to check with the local council.

It is also advisable to keep independent proof that the rules are complied with, since this will help in any appeals process against an issued PCN.  The survey also found that at least 20 to 25 percent of all PCNs issued are appealed against.

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