No Overnight Parking Signs

The following, issued on June 6 2012, is the review into the status of No Overnight Parking signs as a result of the successful campaign I undertook to have all No Overnight Parking signs across the Highlands removed.

A Review of ‘No Overnight Parking’ Signs at trunk road laybys

1.0       Background

Mr Strangeway emailed Transport Scotland to complain about the presence of ‘No Overnight Parking’ signs that have been erected at some trunk road laybys particularly in the Highland Council area – typical examples of these signs can be found at Annex A. Mr Strangeway wanted the signs removed because they were not in his view legal and he objects to roads authorities deterring him from exercising his rights. Furthermore he is concerned that there is no definition of ‘overnight’ and he sees these signs as being unwelcoming to tourists.

Transport Scotland in their response have explained that the primary function of a layby is to provide drivers with an opportunity to take a short break on their journey without deviating off their route

The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges standard for laybys, TD 69/07 states that ‘Laybys are important for drivers needing to stop for a short time. They are typically used on rural roads with speed limits greater than 40mph as in urban areas other types of parking are available. Services or rest areas are more appropriate than laybys for longer stops.’

Many laybys in the north of Scotland have been the subject of abuse by some users in the past ranging from litter left in the layby by overnight campers, which can be blown on to adjacent properties, to concerns about public hygiene as a result of people using the layby as an unofficial toilet.

The signs are designed to discourage this use and to give ‘short stop’ road users the opportunity to use laybys for the purpose that they were designed for.

In TransportScotland’s letter dated 29 December 2011 we advised that we would undertake a review of the location of these signs and will discuss with the relevant local authorities and Police to gauge the level of success or otherwise in deterring anti-social behaviour.

Correspondence between Mr Strangeway and TransportScotland is at Annex B (Transport Scotland to Mr Strangeway correspondence) and Annex C (Mr Strangeway to Transport Scotland correspondence)

2.0       Discussion with Police

Andy Anderson of Transport Scotlandspoke to Sergeant Pryde of Northern Constabulary’s Road Policing Unit. Sgt Pryde advised that hauliers were more inclined to abuse laybys, parking up overnight or leaving their trailers in laybys. However the Police do not have any particular concerns regarding this type of activity and would only take action if they considered it to represent a road hazard.

Police also advised that there were no staff who could recall the history of when and why the signs were erected and were unable to give a view on the success or otherwise of these signs in deterring anti social behaviour.

3.0       Discussion with The Highland Council

Andy Anderson also discussed the matter with The Highland Council’s Sam MacNaughton Head of Transport and Infrastructure.and Richard Guest, Head of Roads and Community Works.

Sam MacNaughton confirmed that although he had not been involved in the process to erect the signs he was of the view that they had been erected following complaints about litter and public health issues. As he was not involved in the erection of the signs and was also unable to comment on whether the signs had been successful in deterring people from parking overnight and deterring anti-social behaviour.

Richard Guest recalled that the signs were erected early to mid 90s by The Highland Council when they were acting as the trunk road Maintaining Agent for the then Scottish Office and were erected in response to an appeal from Councillors to support local businesses and encourage use of official camp sites.

4.0       Extent of Signing in the North West

Transport Scotland’s Operating Company, Scotland TranServ carried out a survey to determine the number of signs in the north west. There is a total number of 45 signs and 24 poles where the signs are missing, these can be spilt into routes as follows:-

Route Number No of signs No of signs missing
A9 1 1
A82 23 9
A830 2 0
A835 12 3
A87 6 10
A99 1 1


45 24

5.0       Legality of Signs

Black on yellow ‘No Parking Overnight’ signs are not covered by a traffic regulation order. Non prescribed signs such as this require special approval from the Scottish Ministers but there is no record of them having received any such authorisation.

An enforceable prohibition of parking would require an appropriate Traffic Regulation Order with signs and lines that comply with the Traffic Signs regulations and General Directions.

6.0       Recommendation

Although the signs were erected with good intentions in an attempt to encourage responsible use of the laybys, the proper processes were not followed to prohibit overnight parking. There is no Traffic Order in place nor is there any evidence that non prescribed signs were approved by the Scottish Ministers. The signs are not authorised and should be removed. It is proposed that an instruction is issued to all 4 Operating Companies to remove all ‘No Overnight Parking’ signs and poles from the network with a target date to have them removed by 31 August 2012.