10 minutes grace at council car parks – a good idea?

There’s nothing quite like the panic felt when rushing back to your car to try and beat the parking meter.
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And nothing quite like the anger felt when you arrive at your car a couple of minutes late only to find it’s already been slapped with a ticket. All that is about to change though…

10 more minutes

Drivers in England will be given 10 minutes’ grace before being hit with a fine if they stay too long in council-owned car parking spaces. The government has announced the grace period will kick in later this month, along with other measures designed to stop councils making money from parking fines. Local authorities in England have been under fire in recent years after it emerged they were collectively making millions of pounds in profit out of parking fines – figures from the RAC Foundation show councils in England made a combined profit of £667million from on and off-street parking in 2103-14 alone. The new measures include:
  • guidance for councils reminding them they are banned from "using parking to generate profit"
  • a right for residents and businesses to demand - by a petition - that a council "reviews parking in their area"
  • new powers for parking adjudicators so they can "hold councils to account"
  • protection to stop drivers being fined after parking at out-of-order meters
  • a ban on the use of CCTV "spy cars" except in no-parking areas such as bus lanes and near schools.

Pickles’ parking plan

Eric Pickles MP, communities secretary, announced the plans last year as part of measures designed to encourage us to return to our local high streets to do our shopping and boost local economies. Mr Pickles said: "We are ending the war on drivers who simply want to go about their daily business. For too long parking rules have made law-abiding motorists feel like criminals, and caused enormous damage to shops and businesses.” He added: “Slapping people with hefty fines is akin to criminalising shoppers and makes high streets or parades no-go zones for drivers. Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street.”

Safety first?

On the flipside, there is an argument this legislation is being rushed through to curry favour with voters before the general election. And there are fears that the decision to drop CCTV cameras from zebra crossings could compromise pedestrian safety. Councillor David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "We are concerned that government has rushed through today's announcement and failed to fully consult councils on the detail of the regulation." He added: “Beyond the headlines, what is particularly worrying is the detail of these proposals which could make roads less safe for vulnerable pedestrians and inconvenience millions of motorists and commuters.” What do YOU think? A good idea or one that will be abused by motorists and affect road safety? Let us know.

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