Furious Hillingdon driving instructors 'unable to teach parking' as council 'slaps them with fines for using empty carparks for practice'

Driving instructors in Hillingdon claim they’ve been unable to teach learners “an essential manoeuvre” in car parks because the council will issue fines. Hillingdon Council issued a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act.

The order says: “No person or organisation shall, except with the written permission of Hillingdon Council, use parking spaces within a designation public spaces car park for the purpose of instructing learner drivers in any manoeuvres.”

Paul Kerr is an Approved Driving Instructor in Hillingdon. He says driving instructors are “unable to teach bay parking,” which is an “essential manoeuvre” that candidates could be tested on in their driving test. He told MyLondon: “In Hillingdon Council-owned car parks, if you take a pupil in to practice a bay parking manoeuvre, the wardens come in and issue an £80 fixed-penalty notice.

furious hillingdon driving instructors 'unable to teach parking' as council 'slaps them with fines for using empty carparks for practice'

A sign in a Hillingdon car park, warning learners and driving instructors not to use the car park for driving lessons

“There’s one car park I’ve got in mind which has 70 spaces and is always totally empty. This includes free car parks. It’s under the Anti-Social Behaviour Order, and not a parking offence,” he added. Paul, and some other driving instructors, raised a petition to the council which got 200 signatures.

He continued: “They basically came back and said ‘we’ll review it next year’. The fact that we are teaching an essential manoeuvre, it’s under the supervision of a driving instructor, so you couldn’t be in safer hands. Tickets are issued in car parks that have no signage on them. So, the local instructors know this and know to stay clear of the car parks.

“But if an instructor comes into the area, they’ll have no idea and be issued with a fixed penalty notice, when there’s no way of knowing that will be issued and there’s no signage in car parks.” Paul says the order covers the whole borough, and is forcing instructors to use private car parks “but only a small number allow it”.

He says that driving instructors make use of an Argos and a B&Q car park in one part of Hillingdon: “We have to find private car parks and hope we don’t get a fixed penalty notice from them. We just have to wing it, and keep our fingers crossed that we’re not going to get a fixed penalty notice from either the council, or from the private car park.

“It’s the same for driving examiners. They can’t take candidates into a Hillingdon car park, because they risk getting a fixed penalty notice from the council,” he added. Paul hasn’t received a fixed-penalty notice himself, but some of his colleagues have: “It’s becoming almost impossible to find a car park where we can teach the bay parking manoeuvre.”

furious hillingdon driving instructors 'unable to teach parking' as council 'slaps them with fines for using empty carparks for practice'

Hillingdon Council issued an order in 2020, prohibiting learner drivers from practising the bay parking manoeuvre in council car parks

Paul claims that the council hasn’t offered instructors any alternatives, and that the PSPO order issued is “to stop people congregating in car parks”. He says it’s a “completely different scenario”, where they’re “trying to teach learners a skill for life”.

Hillingdon Council says PSPOs “are intended to deal with nuisance or problems that are detrimental to the local community’s quality of life”. A council can issue the order on any public space within its area.

In the petition, put forward by the West London driving instructors, they cited some reasons against the issue of the order. They said: “Hillingdon residents that are learning to drive need to be able to practise… Once they have passed their driving it is very likely they will be parking in Council Car Parks.”

“Residents then began to confront Driving Instructors directly and claimed that they were met with a barrage of abusive language and aggressive behaviour, which prompted the issue of formal advisory letters. Despite these actions, the behaviour continued.”

MyLondon has contacted Hillingdon Council for comment.

Got a story? Email nicole.karageorgi@reachplc.com.

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