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Roads and highways enforcement

We have a duty to maintain adopted roads and highways to safe and serviceable standards. We have to  ensure they are free from nuisance, danger, obstructions, unlawful stopping, interference and encroachments.

From time to time we are required to deal with businesses and individuals who for whatever reason breach the statutory protection relating to highways. Our initial aim is to assist businesses and others to comply with their legal obligations without unnecessary expense or hardship. However, ultimately, firm action will be taken against those who disregard the law.

Enforcement areas

Enforcement action areas include public rights of way, highways and highways works associated with new developments.

If a person without lawful authority or excuse in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway, they are guilty of an offence. In such cases the Highway Authority has legal powers to enforce their removal.

Carriageways, footways, verges and footpaths serving new developments will be adopted by us and maintained at public expense provided they have been constructed in accordance with the Authority’s standards.

We have a duty to co-ordinate works on the highway, including the works of Statutory Undertakers, in the interests of safety, public convenience, the protection of the structure of the street and the integrity of apparatus in it.

We also have powers regarding the timing of street works and the restriction of such works within 12 months of the completion of substantial road works.

We will ensure that the requirements contained in the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, and its supporting Codes of Practice, including those for traffic management and reinstatements are carried out effectively and efficiently. Our officers may deal with matters informally or formally and the action may lead to prosecution.

Weight limits on the public highway

Weight restrictions can be imposed for structural or for environmental reasons. It is legal control on a specified vehicle weight or width, mainly on lorries, on certain roads and routes.

The restriction:

  • prevents large vehicles from using inappropriate roads, routes and areas in order to reduce danger to pedestrians and other road users
  • prevents damage to buildings, roads and bridges
  • preserves the character, amenity and environment of an area
  • reduces and manages congestion on the roads

Procedures for implementation

Restrictions are subject to a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and the associated procedures (see Fact Sheet on Traffic Regulation Orders). Regulatory signs are erected on site to give effect to the TRO and to assist the police in carrying out its enforcement


Enforcement is a matter for the Police. However, the Police have limited resources to enforce this type of restriction (especially environmental restrictions). Restrictions with “except for access” clauses quickly fall into disrepute and are notoriously difficult to enforce. However these are needed to permit HGV access to local shops, businesses, residential properties for deliveries/removals etc. For this reason, enforcement commands a low priority and therefore, where possible, physical measures should be introduced to prevent any abuse of the restrictions – the installation of signs alone are wholly ineffective. Restrictions will not be used if there is no suitable alternative route for the displaced traffic.

Additional considerations

Where a Traffic Regulation Order restricts the use of a road, route or area to certain vehicles, the signing of a recommended alternative route will need to be considered.

Page updated on: 6 June 2019



Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY

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