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.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin