Thomas Bridge 06 March 2015

New parking freedoms prompt ‘serious’ safety fears

Councils have voiced ‘serious concerns’ over a swathe of new parking laws set for introduction in coming months, fearing public safety could be compromised.

Measures set for introduction by this summer will see drivers granted a 10-minute ‘grace period’ before being fined while parked in a bay, a ban on CCTV to issue automated fines in certain locations and new powers for communities over double yellow lines.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said the rules would support local businesses by tackling ‘over-zealous’ parking enforcement.

Measures outlawing CCTV parking enforcement ‘spy cars’ everywhere apart from at schools, bus stops and bus lanes were approved in the last reading of reforms in the Deregulation Bill, which is poised to shortly gain Royal Assent.

However the Local Government Association (LGA) criticised the ban, which it claimed could ‘endanger vulnerable road users such as children, blind or disabled people and create delays for millions of bus users’.

Statutory guidance launched by the Government will allow residents and local firms to initiate a formal review into local parking policies, including charges and use of double yellow lines.

Fines dished out near out-of-order parking meters will also be banned, while bailiffs will be stopped from using ‘overly aggressive’ action to collect costs. Guidance has also been reinforced to ensure councils cannot use parking to make a profit, a claim long denied by town halls.

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.

‘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.’

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: ‘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.’

LGA chair Cllr David Sparks said: ‘We are concerned that government has rushed through today’s announcement and failed to fully consult councils on the detail of the regulation. 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.’

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