I park my bike in my back garden, to which I get access through what I call a ‘snicket’; a shared passage between two terraced houses which I have shared for years with my elderly widowed neighbour.
We have a good relationship and I do bits and bobs for her around the house, changing lightbulbs, resetting her fuse box trips and generally trying to be a good neighbour.
But I now have a problem which has surfaced a couple of times in the last year. My neighbour has a grand daughter who is quite disabled. She can walk but she needs crutches. Her mum parked her car directly in front of the snicket so I could not get my bike out as the pavement is only about a metre wide and I cannot turn my bike if a car is parked there.
I asked her to move it. and I asked her politely, but I was told with some pretty robust language that; “We have got a blue badge and can park where we like”, I only asked her to move it three feet so I could get my bike out.
Luckily, they do not come out to see my neighbour very often and this is not a regular problem but what should I do? It is always on a weekend when I want to get my bike out. The Council has said they cannot do anything.
Firstly, ask your elderly neighbour if she would be able to persuade her daughter-in-law to park more considerately. Your moral and ‘good-neighbour’ leverage is a lot more than your legal leverage. The Council genuinely has no real powers. It can, at its discretion, paint a white line across access which has no force of law but stops some people parking but it is for vehicular access and you have no right to vehicular access.
The snicket is for pedestrian access. There is no dropped kerb for vehicular access, nor are there any parking restrictions. Section 137 of the Highways Act does give the Police the power to fine an obstructively parked vehicle. If the car was parked ignorant of your need to get your bike out of your garden, then I would say that no offence has been committed but once the driver becomes aware that she is causing an obstruction, it is an offence. However I suspect most coppers would politely suggest moving the vehicle. If they ask her to move It on a Monday, and she parks it again on a Tuesday, you’ll have to go through this whole process again.
“I could suggest an injunction, but it is fraught, unpredictable and expensive.”
Your civil remedies are thin. I could suggest an injunction, but it is fraught, unpredictable and expensive. Also, when you come to sell your home, you will be asked if there have been any formal disputes with your neighbours, which you asking for an injunction is and is the kind of thing that could put potential purchasers off buying a house. I would not buy a house where the previous home owner had needed to take out injunctive relief against a neighbour.
Your best option is to ask your nice neighbour to get her daughter-in-law to be a bit more understanding; the second phase is to involve the Police and the third phase is either to seek an injunction or move house if it becomes a real problem. Honestly. I would rather move home than have the expense of a neighbourhood dispute.
They are loved by lawyers, because people become emotional and throw huge sums of money at them. They are not quite so much fun for the poor buggers involved. I also think there is a good chance the court would. balancing the rights of a disabled child to visit her Nan against your parking convenience, favour the right to park on an unrestricted-parking road. So your best strategy is to use real moral leverage.
RiDE Magazine March 2020