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.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Project Coordinator

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Project C...

EYFS Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Our Primary School in Grimsby ar...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 6 Supply Teacher Position a...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?