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Government to give drivers 10-minute grace period in council car parks

Drivers are to get a 10-minute grace period after a parking ticket runs out before they can be fined under new government plans.

It is one of several changes, expected to take effect later this month, which include new restrictions on the use of CCTV cars issuing automatic fines.

The new laws, which the government say are to help local shops, will apply to all on-street and off-street council car parking spots.

The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, announced the move last year as part of measures intended to get shoppers returning to the high street.

“We are ending the war on drivers who simply want to go about their daily business,” he said. “For too long parking rules have made law-abiding motorists feel like criminals, and caused enormous damage to shops and businesses.

“Over-zealous parking enforcement undermines our town centres and costs councils more in the long-term. Our measures not only bring big benefits for high streets, motorists and local authorities - they put common sense back into parking.”

However the Local Government Association said that many councils already offer the grace period and complained that they were not fully consulted on the details of the proposals, which could “make roads less safe for vulnerable pedestrians”.

Cllr David Sparks, LGA chair, said: “We have serious concerns about the decision to ban the use of CCTV on zebra crossings and bus routes. This decision could endanger vulnerable road users such as children, blind or disabled people and create delays for millions of bus users. 

“A more pressing issue is that, by the government’s own estimates, traffic on our roads will nearly double by 2040. Rather than looking to micromanage parking, government should look at the more pressing issue of the demand on the nation’s roads and give councils the powers to address this.”

Other measures that form part of the plans include new powers for parking adjudicators so they can hold councils to account to tackle parking problems such as poor signage at specific locations.

Residents and local firms will also now be able to demand that their council reviews parking in their area, including the charges and use of yellow lines.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Helping local businesses thrive is a key part of our long-term economic plan. These measures will deliver a fairer deal for motorists and help boost the high street by ensuring that parking enforcement is proportionate, while also protecting school children and keeping key routes and bus lanes clear.”

The AA welcomed the announcement. It’s president, Edmund King, said: "This is a common sense move. All too often there are discrepancies between the car clock, the civic clock, the pay-and-display clock, the parking attendant's clock and the driver's watch, which all result in disputed tickets.”        

He added it was counter-productive to have parking attendants "hiding in doorways to issue tickets the minute a ticket runs out, as this deters drivers from shopping in the high street".

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