Traffic wardens ordered to give drivers 10 minutes’ grace

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Drivers are to get 10 minutes’ grace after a parking ticket runs out before they can be hit with a fine.

Under a change in the law to take effect within weeks, the leeway will apply to all on-street and off-street council parking spots in England.

For too long parking rules have made law-abiding motorists feel like criminals, and caused enormous damage to shops and businesses.

The move is designed to bring an end to decades of drivers’ complaints about returning to their cars moments after a ticket expires to find they have already been hit with a penalty.

The new rules, approved as part of the Deregulation Bill, will apply to cars parked in a pay-and-display bays or other spaces with time limits.

Other measures include a right for residents and local firms to demand that their council reviews parking in their area.

CCTV camera cars that automatically issue parking fines are to be made illegal, except in sensitive areas such as near schools and in bus lanes.

There will be an end to fines at out-of-order parking meters when there is no alternative way to pay.

Guidance will also reinforce that councils cannot use parking to make a profit. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “We are ending the war on drivers who simply want to go about their daily business.

“For too long parking rules have made law-abiding motorists feel like criminals, and caused enormous damage to shops and businesses.

“Over-zealous parking enforcement undermines our town centres and costs councils more in the long term.

“Our measures not only bring big benefits for high streets, motorists and local authorities - they put common sense back into parking.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “These measures will deliver a fairer deal for motorists and help boost the high street by ensuring that parking enforcement is proportionate, while also protecting schoolchildren and keeping key routes and bus lanes clear.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “For such a minor part of our lives parking generates a huge amount of frustration and anger. Allowing a grace period will help ease tensions and make everyone’s lives easier. The shame is that we have required ministerial intervention to tackle the ‘rules are rules’ culture which can result in heavy handed and disproportionate penalties.

“Most drivers probably don’t care how parking regulations are being enforced as long as they thought it was being done fairly.”

AA president Edmund King said: “This is a common sense move. All too often there are discrepancies between the car clock, the civic clock, the pay-and-display clock, the parking attendant’s clock and the driver’s watch, which all result in disputed tickets.

“It is counter-production to have parking attendants hiding in doorways to issue tickets the minute a ticket runs out, as this deters drivers from shopping in the high street. Motorists will welcome a little more flexibility to ensure that they don’t go into 19th nervous breakdown about the accuracy of their watch or car clock.”