Communities secretary Eric Pickles is expected to put forward proposals to allow a 15-minute grace period for motorists that would allow them to park on double yellow lines.
Although labelled as “unworkable” by the Liberal Democrats, Pickles hopes the move will rejuvenate flagging high streets by offering the opportunity for shoppers to park their car for free for a short period of time.
“The high street is in danger of shrinking or dying off, and over-aggressive parking enforcement is part of the reason why,” a Department for Communities and Local Government source told the Daily Telegraph.
“If people are worried about paying a fortune in parking fines, it will make them more likely to do their shop online or go to out-of-town shopping centres. For too long parking has been a revenue raiser. It’s time to end that.”
No information has been released on how the grace period would be monitored or if there will be areas exempt from the scheme. It is expected that in order for the Liberal Democrats to consider agreeing with the proposals, the £70 cap on fines for illegal parking outside of London would have to be removed.
Similar grace periods have been introduced by local councils already. In Shropshire, drivers have 15 minutes free parking in surface car park and on-street parking pay and display bays. According to council leader Keith Barrow, the move was designed to revitalise the high street. “By giving a grace period of 15 minutes, I hope we will make it easier for those people who just want to pop into town for a short time to run an errand or visit a particular shop,” he said.
A recent ACS survey on the issue revealed that 40% of convenience store retailers feel insufficient customer parking is having a damaging impact on their business while almost 60% of retailers don’t believe that councils consider the impact of their parking and highways policies on local shops.