Parking for 15 minutes on double yellow lines may be allowed

 

The BBC's Mike Sergeant in Essex on whether yellow lines could be suspended

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Motorists could be allowed to park free of charge on double yellow lines for up to fifteen minutes under plans being considered to help boost High Streets.

Drivers in England could be given a "grace period" to pick up goods from shops or leave their cars in bays for longer without being fined.

While the Conservatives are keen on the idea, their Lib Dem coalition partners are understood to have reservations.

Councils have rejected suggestions they are using parking fines as "cash cows".

'Fortune in fines'

Parking and waiting on double yellow lines is prohibited - unless stated - for all vehicles except for those making commercial deliveries and pick-ups, blue badge holders and the emergency services.

Analysis

Both sides of the coalition say they want to help boost town centre trade, but disagree on how to do it.

Eric Pickles agrees with the High Street guru Mary Portas that fear of hefty parking fines is "killing High Streets" and encouraging people to go online or shop at out of town centres.

But his double yellow lines proposals have been dismissed by Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker as "unworkable". He warned it could cause congestion and be dangerous.

The president of the motoring organisation AA also described the idea as "confused thinking".

It might be an idea likely to be popular with motorists and traders, but with no agreement on the plans, double yellow lines look set to remain barred for cars for a while yet.

Some councils already allow motorists to park free of charge for up to 30 minutes close to shops and Conservative ministers in the coalition government are to keen to extend that to give a shot in the arm to small shops.

Making town centre parking more affordable was one of the main recommendations of a 2011 review into the future of the High Street led by TV retail expert Mary Portas.

Sources close to the communities secretary Eric Pickles told the Daily Telegraph that "over-aggressive" parking enforcement was one of the reasons why many High Streets were struggling.

"If people are worried about paying a fortune in fines, it will make them more likely to shop online or go to out-of-town shopping centres," he said. "For too long, parking has been a revenue raiser. It is time to end that."

Conservative ministers want to issue new guidelines before the general election to encourage councils to consider a grace period of between five and fifteen minutes on double yellow lines.

But the BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said their Lib Dem coalition partners believed it was "unworkable" and that no agreement had been reached.

"Councils need to play their part in reining back in the over-zealous culture of municipal parking enforcement," a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said.

"They should adopt a common sense approach. Ministers are considering what further steps can be taken to ensure that town hall parking policies and practices support local high streets."

'Impractical'

Speaking last month, Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker said it would be wrong for ministers to interfere with councils' parking policies. However, he confirmed the maximum and minimum fine levels that are set by the government are to be reviewed.

Start Quote

Many double lines are there for historical reasons and could be lifted”

End Quote Edmund King AA president

The Lib Dems are reported to be keen on raising the cap for parking fines but motoring groups have raised concerns that, if this was to happen, local authorities could become increasingly "reliant" on such income.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 300 councils in England and Wales, said double yellow lines "kept people safe and traffic moving" and there were "better ways" to attract people to High Streets.

"Removing parking restrictions on these parts of the road could jeopardise the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists and create further traffic jams," said Councillor Peter Box, chairman of its economy and transport board.

"A 15-minute window for parking would also be costly and impractical to monitor."

'Historical reasons'

The AA said a thorough review of yellow line restrictions was needed to ensure they do not "run out of control".

"Many double lines are there for historical reasons and could be lifted," its president Edmund King said.

"There is plenty of opportunity to ease back on the signs and lines in many places, giving drivers short-term waiting bays instead so they can stop briefly to buy a paper or loaf of bread."

Business Secretary Vince Cable told Channel 5 News he had "a lot of sympathy with what Eric Pickles is trying to do.

"I think a lot of small businesses are driven to distraction by over-zealous enforcement of parking rules, so I think a little bit of common sense and flexibility is very much to be welcomed."

At the moment, the largest fine for illegal parking outside London is £70, while it is £130 in the capital.

Differential rates apply for different offences in most areas, with parking on double yellow lines generally incurring a larger penalty.

Appearing before MPs last month, council executives denied that parking officials had been set targets for the amount of tickets issued and that revenue from parking infringements was being used to compensate for cuts in funding from Whitehall.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 209.

    We went to Cardiff yesterday for lunch. It cost me £10 to park for a two hour stay. I don't think I will be going back in a hurry.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 208.

    Hope this gets a "U-turn" as the roads outside the hospital I work in are crowded at the least, but now we have a Tesco Metro up the street the traffic jams are worse and dangerous, as you don't know if a illegally parked car is just about to re-join the main traffic or not, seen many a close call in past few months.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 207.

    It is really not hard to entice people back to the high street: Limit how much car parks charge per hour!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 206.

    Lets save the High Street

    This is bolting the gate after the horse has won the Gold Cup, Grand National, and been sent out to stud.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 205.

    The problem is not parking, it is the sheer number of cars in this country. Yes, this will sound smug but I cycle whenever I can and never have problems. Wonder why? By the way, I do stop at red lights, always signal properly etc. so don't hate me too much!

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 204.

    Three local towns in Oxfordshire:
    Witney - 3 hours free parking - thriving shopping centre.
    Abingdon - free parking introduced and town centre spruced up, but too little, too late - it's still dying and Tesco is doing fine.
    Oxford - extortionate parking - council controlled shop rents doubling - city centre starting to die - even 1,000+ years of history won't save it.
    Draw your own conclusions.

  • rate this
    -27

    Comment number 203.

    Double yellow lines are governemt graffito defacing towns and villages everywhere anythings that may lead to there removal is to be welcomed.

  • rate this
    -19

    Comment number 202.

    I actually think this is a good idea, to be able to pop into a shop or bank for a couple of minutes would be most helpful , in brighton there is nowhere to park except very expensive car parks , sometimes I just want a paper , I don't want to pay £3.50 parking to get it , so end up going to a big company garage forecourt and not the local shops that need our business

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 201.

    Recipe for chaos

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 200.

    If it is safe to park for 15 minutes then the lines should not have been there in the first place.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 199.

    I was under the perception that double yellow lines were put in places of danger or to kep the traffic moving. If the govrnment is now saying that there are some such double yellow lines that can be parked on for periods of 15 minutes then surely they should be removed altogether and replaced by low cost short stay parking bays.

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 198.

    Reasons for town centers becoming ghosts towns.

    1. Astronomical rents
    2. Towns swamped by multiple supermarkets
    3. Overpriced town carparks with cowboy clampers

    All of these can be controlled by councils.
    And they suggest parking for 15mins on double yellows.

    No backbone to tackle the real problems.
    No brains either.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 197.

    The High Street as is was is dead, double yellow lines are a safety feature and will not save it. The internet and shopping centres are the future of retail, High Streets need to become entertainment centres and places where small independent boutiques can thrive. Lower the rent/rates for High Streets and see the changes.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 196.

    If it is safe to park in these places why are yellow lines there in the first place, same applies to open season blue badge parking.

    Mark the roads appropriately (either with limited parking or blue badge bays), keep yellow lines for places where its dangerous to park and remove parking enforcement from the Police list of "things we can't be bothered to do anymore"

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 195.

    "Sources close to the communities secretary Eric Pickles told the Daily Telegraph that "over-aggressive" parking enforcement was one of the reasons why many High Streets were struggling."

    Drivel.

    I think that Pickles will find that high streets are struggling because for 5 years pay rises are at 1%, whilst inflation is 3.3% or more. Many people just haven't got the money.

  • rate this
    -18

    Comment number 194.

    Yet we're penalised if we accidentally go in the wrong lane at a roundabout.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 193.

    All this will do is create a very nice and convenient grey area to reap even more revenue from the motorist. It will create ambiguity over the 15 minute time limit, who will police this move and how? Come up with something else or just stick with the single and the double yellow system as this works.

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 192.

    The. Great. God. Car.
    The. Sacred. Motorist.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 191.

    Many double yellow lines are on wide roads and are unnecessary. They are there to force people to pay to park in the council owned car parks.

    Why doesn't the government run a trial? Select a dozen towns, abolish all parking charges and indemnify the councils for any losses. Let it run for two years and see how the high streets have changed?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 190.

    If there are places where it is ok to leave a car for 15 minutes, then they should not have double yellow lines. They should be used only on roads that need to be kept clear. it makes no difference to traffic flow or junction visibility whether one car parks there all day or a series of cars park there for 15 minutes each. In fact the latter will cause more congestion.

 

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