END OF THE WAR ON DRIVERS? England's new parking laws are meant help small shop-owners and curb over-zealous parking marshals. Image: Newspress
LONDON, England - Parking measures that "put common-sense back in the driving seat" have been given a green light in England by local government and communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
Revised laws, aimed at helping local shops, see drivers receiving a 10-minute grace period when parked in a bay. This will avoid penalties for being a few minutes late when returning to a vehicle – be it in a paid or free parking space.
The use of CCTV ‘spy cars’ has been banned in most places, ending the tyranny of automated fines landing on doorsteps and being issued in industrial volumes.
CURB OVER-ZEALOUS ENFORCEMENT
(Sorry, did I hear somebody say a general election is scheduled for 2015 in the UK? - Ed)
The measures will, it's claimed, stop over-zealous parking enforcement, which often forces people to shop in out-of-town centres or online. The laws were approved in the last reading of parking reforms in the Deregulation Bill.
Other measures protecting drivers include new powers for parking adjudicators so they can hold councils to accountable to tackle parking problems such as poor signage.
A powerful new right enables residents and local firms to demand that their council reviews parking in their area, including charges and use of yellow lines.
NO PROFIT FROM PARKING?
There will also be tougher rules against heavy-handed action by bailiffs and an end to fines at out-of-order parking meters when there is no alternative way to pay. Guidance will also reinforce that councils cannot use parking to make a profit.
Councils were also asked to volunteer to trial a new pilot that allows motorists challenging a parking ticket to benefit from a 25% discount on the fine if they lose the appeal. Currently drivers are only offered a discount on early payment before challenging a ticket.
The parking measures are a victory for drivers and one of a number of initiatives introduced by the government to support high streets and give local shops a fairer deal.
'ENDING THE WAR ON DRIVERS'
Communities Secretary Eric 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 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 cross-government Deregulation Bill passed its Third Reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday (March 4 2015) and Royal Assent of the Bill is expected soon.
Parking measures instigated by the Department for Communities and Local Government that passed the Third Reading include a ban on the use of CCTV for issuing automated fines except in those no-parking areas around schools, bus stops, bus lanes and red routes. These will be commenced after Royal Assent, and come into force in April; the draft secondary legislation was to be published on March 6.
The department for communities and local government is also laying a statutory instrument granting ‘10 minute parking grace periods’. This applies to paid for or free parking spaces both on-street and off-street (in council owned car parks and similar).
This has been signed by Eric Pickles and will come into affect later in March 2015.
The department for transport is publishing revised statutory guidance that ensures that:
• Drivers are not fined for parking at out-of-order parking meters
• Bailiffs do not use overly aggressive action
• Reinforces that using parking to generate profit is prohibited
• Gives parking adjudicators stronger powers to hold councils to account so they can seek to address parking problems
• Parking policies support local shops
According to the local government: "The Department for communities and local government is publishing new statutory guidance to make sure local residents and companies can petition to initiate a formal review of parking policy in their area from the council, with councillors then voting on the action to be taken."