Eric Pickles's plan to give 15-minute grace on double-yellow lines is denounced as 'unworkable'

Lib Dems split over support for cabinet colleague

Plans to grant motorists a 15-minute grace window allowing them to park on double yellow lines while they pop into a shop came under fire yesterday from local authorities, road safety campaigners and even drivers’ groups who described them as dangerous and flawed.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is backing the scheme, which he believes could help regenerate high streets where decline is often blamed on ruthlessly efficient traffic wardens and costly parking.

Councils were urged to rein in what was described as an “over-zealous enforcement culture” which has seen illicit parking generate more than £1 million a day in fines for town hall chiefs.

Mr Pickles floated the idea in an article in The Daily Telegraph, prompting speculation that it marked a split within the Coalition after the Liberal Democrat transport minister Norman Baker said the idea was “unworkable”.  However, Business Secretary Vince Cable later expressed “sympathy” for Mr Pickles' plans.

Under the proposal those who took longer than a quarter of an hour would face fines of £130. Currently motorists who flout restrictions must pay £70 outside London and £130 in the capital.

The Local Government Association said double yellow lines were there to prevent accidents and keep traffic flowing. Introducing the 15-minute window would be impossible to monitor as well as costly to introduce, it said.

Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said: “Removing parking restrictions on these parts of the road could jeopardise the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists and create further traffic jams.”

Whilst the AA said it was in favour of some easing of the rules, the RAC warned businesses were likely to be adversely affected by a “parking free-for-all”.

Even business groups gave the plan only a cautious thumbs-up. Michael Weedon, of the British Independent Retailers Association, said the lifting of restrictions - whilst welcome in theory - should only take place if it was certain it would not impact on safety.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “This proposal highlights the need for a clear discussion about parking provision across the country and how to limit the use of parking fees and fines for financial gain.”

But Ellen Booth of the road safety charity Brake said there was no evidence to suggest that relaxing double yellow lines would encourage more local spending and called for the wider introduction of 20mph zones.

“Instead of encouraging more people to drive to busy city centres, Brake urges the government to do more to encourage the public to arrive by other forms of transport by making streets safer for walking and cycling and by introducing more park and ride facilities,” she said.

Earlier this month the High Court ruled that local authorities could not increase parking charges as a means of raising revenues following a test case involving Barnet council in north London.

It is a far cry from what could have been envisaged by George Bamber, a farmer who can lay claim to being the architect of the ubiquitous yellow stripes which, along with their pernicious cousin the red line, now mark hundreds of thousands of miles of British roads out of bounds to vehicles.

Bamber, who died in 1902 nearly half a century before the Road Traffic Act enshrined his creation in law, copied the symbols from the markings on the sheep he kept at his property at Masham, North Yorkshire.

He painted them on the road around the perimeter of his holding to ward off parked carts on the town’s busy market day. The idea was rapidly copied by the local mayor and those in surrounding villages although it did not appear in London until the mid-1950s when it was introduced in a bid to control parking around Chinese restaurants in Soho.

It was not until 1960 that the necessary legislation was passed to make the markings law in the UK and what remained of its empire - although the powers to enforce parking regulations have been routinely updated and extended ever since.

For decades motorists have lamented Bamber’s controlling vision which has helped pit the driver against the forces of town hall bureaucracy and their outriders - the parking attendant - in an apparently never-ending war of attrition.

In one of the more notable examples of municipal literal-mindedness Theatre Street in Norwich was for a while home to the UK’s shortest double yellow line measuring just 24 inches.

Drivers have complained at having the markings painted around their parked vehicles and tickets issued whilst revelations earlier this year that some traffic wardens were earning in excess of £50,000 a year provoked outrage among the motoring lobby.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?