Suggestions, complaints and appeals about road and street issues

Who is responsible for London’s roads and streets?

Highways England maintains and manages the motorways in London, which are recognisable by their blue road signs.  They are outside the scope of this note.

Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for the rest of London’s major roads, known as Red routes, as well as the Central London congestion charging zone and all of London’s traffic lights.

The 33 London borough councils, including the City of London Corporation, are in charge of the local roads in their areas.  This includes both their construction and maintenance, and the management of traffic (parking, speed limits, etc) on them.

In law, the body responsible for maintaining a road is called the highway authority, and the body responsible for managing its use is the traffic authority.  But these are usually the same organisation.

How to recognise a Red route

You can identify Red routes by the red “no stopping” lines and signs along them.  You can find maps of them here.

Highway obstructions

It is against the law to obstruct public roads (which are known in law as highways, and include the adjacent pavements, known as footways).   It is the duty of the relevant authority to keep the highways clear.  But there are varying interpretations of this law, and many authorities do allow some obstructions to be placed on footways.  Where this happens, it should be subject to an “equalities impact statement” to ensure that the needs of vulnerable users are protected.

Bus stops

TfL can install bus stops where it is safe to do so on any of London’s roads.  On roads controlled by the borough councils, it works with them to provide clearway markings in order to control parking at stops.

Making complaints

Road infrastructure

Suggestions and complaints about a road’s infrastructure (i.e. its physical condition) should be made to the appropriate highway authority – i.e. TfL if it is a Red route, and the relevant borough council in any other case.

Traffic management and parking rules

Suggestions and complaints about how a road is used (such as white or yellow lines, and traffic signs) should be made to the appropriate traffic authority – i.e. TfL if it is a Red route, and the relevant borough council in any other case.  But any matter relating to traffic lights should be referred to TfL.

Penalty charge notices relating to parking, moving traffic, bus lanes, congestion charging, low emission zone and littering

If you have been issued with a penalty charge notice for violating any traffic management rule, you should follow the procedure set out on it.  London Tribunals is a body set up specifically to support the independent adjudicators who consider appeals against these notices, and for this reason London TravelWatch does not normally become involved with cases of this kind.   

Obstructions of the highway (and footways)

Complaints should be made to the appropriate highway authority.  If an advertising board or anything else is obstructing the footway, or if you believe that street trading is taking place without a licence, you should advise TfL if it is on a Red route, or the local borough council in any other case.

Street cleaning

The London boroughs are responsible for cleaning all of London’s streets, including Red routes.  All complaints should be made to the relevant council.

Siting of bus stops

If you want to discuss the location of a bus stop or shelter, you should contact TfL with your suggestion.  Having the local borough council’s support will strengthen your case.

Making appeals

Appealing about councils

If you are dissatisfied with a council’s response to your complaint, you should follow the appeals procedure described on its website.  If this does not lead to an outcome which is acceptable to you, you can then appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Appealing about TfL

If you are dissatisfied with TfL’s response to your complaint, you can ask London TravelWatch to review your case. 

But please note that London TravelWatch will only consider matters from the point of view of the users of a service provided by TfL.  So, for example, if you want to have a bus stop moved to make it more convenient for passengers, we will look at the effect this would have on them.  But if you want a bus stop moved for any other reason, such as its impact on traffic flow or parking or the amenity of residents, you should contact the Local Government Ombudsman.