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Viewpoints comment Gary Shenton

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 05, 2014

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At last, the brakes are to be applied on the nation's over-zealous traffic wardens!

The Government is about to drive through new legislation to appease angry motorists.

The man we can thank at the wheel is Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Among the proposed new measures is a 10-minute grace after parking tickets expire.

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The extra minutes will protect drivers parking on the street outside local shops from getting a penalty ticket immediately after their time period has expired.

There are also plans lift the similar threat faced by motorists who use council car parks.

Those nasty little council "spy cars" with CCTV cameras, which lie in wait ready to catch out unsuspecting motorists straying on their travels, are also to be taken of our high streets.

Popping to the shops should be simple and pain free, says Mr Pickles – and not before time.

Britain's high streets have become no-go zones for drivers who fear the threat of incurring a hefty fine from a lurking traffic warden should they overstay their welcome.

To quote Mr Pickles: "By making 10-minute grace periods mandatory we can bring common sense back to parking on the high street and ease every traffic warden's finger off the ticket trigger."

Councils and parking adjudicators, who rule on penalty charge appeals, must follow the new guidance, which becomes law through the Deregulation Bill this autumn. Any breach would trigger a refund.

Incredibly, nine million fines a year are issued by councils and parking revenue has risen from £608 million in 1997 to £1.3 billion in 2010.

Not surprisingly motoring organisations have welcomed the move.

Once when there wasn't such a money-making motive by local authorities, the idea about parking enforcement was to maintain the smooth flow of parking spaces in our town and city centres, so as to encourage a steady flow of visitors.

Over-officious traffic wardens have become the bane of our lives in this growing nanny state of ours.

There has been evidence that wardens have their remuneration based on how many tickets they issue. How shocking is that!

Motorists are having a hard enough time as it is faced with soaring insurance premiums and yo-yoing fuel prices. Parking tickets were never meant to be a devious means of raising more cash for the town hall coffers.

The persistent threat traffic wardens pose to motorists has had had a devastating impact on high street businesses across the length and breadth of Britain.

Thankfully, a Government minister has finally recognised this fact, for which we should applaud Mr Pickles.

We can only hope that Mr Pickles can convince some of his ministerial colleagues that "common sense" is the best way forward, to get the high streets buzzing again and the nation's economy more swiftly back on its feet.

Please, please can we get rid of more of those hideous laws that make our daily lives a misery.

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