Reality Check: Can ambulances park on yellow lines?

Ambulances Image copyright PA

A council has been criticised for issuing fines for ambulances parked on yellow lines near a cancer hospital. What does the law say?

Ambulances transporting cancer patients for treatment at a central London hospital are having fixed penalty notices placed upon them for parking illegally in the streets nearby.

The Evening Standard quotes a driver calling the situation "ridiculous", but Camden Council - which issues parking penalties in the area around University College Hospital's Macmillan Cancer Centre - says it is within its rights to impose the fines.

So, what is the law?

The 2002 Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions state that emergency vehicles can park in restricted areas - containing, for instance, single or double yellow lines or double red lines - only when they're used for specific "police, fire brigade or ambulance purposes".

The Department for Transport says this means that "any vehicle being used for emergency purposes" is exempt from parking fines.

The exception doesn't apply to non-emergency appointments, such as those for cancer patients at University College Hospital, so Camden Council is within its rights to impose the penalties.

The vehicles used to take patients to and from University College Hospital are provided by the company G4S, which pays the fines.

Whether the ambulance is privately owned or state-owned makes no difference in terms of fines - only whether it's supplying emergency or non-emergency transport.

Camden Council has said it wants talks with the hospital and G4S on "how they will ensure they maintain access and park non-emergency vehicles in permitted areas".

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said it "is working with both G4S and Camden Council to ensure adequate provision of space designated for picking up and dropping off patients".

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