The government is considering relaxing parking laws in an effort to attract punters back to the high street.
The proposal, put forward by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, would allow drivers a “grace period” of 15 minutes when parked on double yellow lines ─ an act that would currently result in a fine, being towed away or both.
It’s hoped these measures will tempt drivers who have grown frustrated with difficult city parking to ditch online shopping or out-of-town malls and return to the high street.
“The High Street is in danger of shrinking or dying off, and over-aggressive parking enforcement is part of the reason why,” a source close to Eric Pickles told The 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,” the source added.
While the logic is sound, yellow lines are there to ensure roads are not blocked, which can be annoying for motorists and potentially dangerous for the emergency services.
As such, another proposal is being put forward that would see increased fines for people who are deemed to be parked dangerously.
Liberal democrat transport minister Norman Baker said of the proposal: “We are keen to ensure that the High Street works for businesses by stopping people parking illegally for hours on end. I have been in discussions with other colleagues from government about how we can best take decisions on this forward.”
“This is about tackling motorists who are parking illegally, not about raising charges for those who park legally.”
To encourage high street growth, a number of places already operate a free 30 minute free parking system, while others such as the Bentalls Centre in Kingston make their car park free after 6pm once a week. The government is hoping to implement the former on a wider scale.
Mr Pickles has previously accused local councils of treating motorists like “cash cows,” hence why he originally proposed a grace period back in May, 2013.
Quite how such a system would be monitored remains to be seen.