Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed plans to crack down on pavement parking – saying that the practice affects some of society’s most vulnerable people.

Alison Hernandez, the road safety lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, was responding to a report that suggests making it easier for councils to fine motorists who block pavements.

She said: “Pavement parking is a real inconvenience to many pedestrians and can present particular safety difficulties to people with sight impairments, wheelchair users and people using buggies and pushchairs.

“Many of the towns and villages across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have narrow lanes and pavements, meaning access routes such as driveways can be easily blocked. Driving on pavements also can cause long term damage to the surface, making additional trip hazards to pedestrians and maintenance costs to the local authority.

“There is also a frustration amongst residents that the authorities cannot do more to rectify the problem, leaving them feeling helpless."

The findings come at the end of an inquiry by the Transport Select Committee, which received evidence from more than 400 organisations and individuals, including the Devon and Cornwall PCC’s office.

Currently it is not against the law - except in London or where a local regulation is in place - to park on the pavement although it is illegal to drive on the pavement.

Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) can be used by local authorities to ban pavement parking, but the cost of advertising them can be prohibitive.

The committee recommends that the Government should remove the requirement of newspaper advertising and councils should put in place effective methods for consulting with their communities.

The committee has also recommended that the Government produce guidance for local authorities and police forces on enforcement, and publicise who is responsible for enforcing which offences to the public.

Alison added: “I am pleased that the committee has recommended these bold actions and I hope the Government will accept them and introduce them as soon as possible.”

Currently police can fine people for obstructing the highway, which includes cars parked on the pavement that impede pedestrians.

However, there is not a clear legal definition of obstruction, therefore the committee recommends that a new civil offence of obstructive pavement parking is created, and enforcement become the responsibility of local authorities.