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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 04:48 GMT 05:48 UK
Friendlier parking rules sought
A car parked on double yellow lines
The current system has been described as "a mess"
Proposals to make council car parking enforcement in England more friendly to motorists have been unveiled.

The government plans include clamping for persistent offenders only, special training for enforcement officers, and an easier appeal process.

A Commons committee strongly criticised the current arrangements last month.

"The government is determined to see a parking system that is fairer and more consistent," said Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander.

'Significant stride'

We have listened to motorists and it is clear that the current system needs to be improved
Douglas Alexander
Transport Secretary

Under the proposals, decriminalised parking enforcement where action is taken against offenders by councils rather than the police will be known as civil parking enforcement.

Parking attendants will be referred to as civil enforcement officers.

The plans include:

  • Wheelclamping for only the most persistent offenders
  • More transparency and information for road users
  • Dedicated training for those involved in civil parking enforcement
  • A more motorist-friendly appeals process
  • More powers for independent adjudicators when procedures have not been followed properly
  • Regular reviews of parking policies by local authorities
  • Persistent parking offenders targeted through a national database

Mr Alexander said the proposals were a "significant stride" towards achieving a fairer system.

"We have listened to motorists and it is clear that the current system needs to be improved," he said.

"Taken together, the proposals in this draft guidance will strengthen the system of civil parking enforcement and help local authorities tackle local congestion and keep the traffic moving."

'Over-zealous enforcement'

The House of Commons Transport Committee criticised parking policy and enforcement as "inconsistent and confused", and its chairman Gwyneth Dunwoody said the system was "a mess".

The draft guidelines have been drawn up by the Department for Transport with the help of car parking company NCP.

Parking enforcement has little to do with keeping the roads clear nowadays, it is simply a way of raising money
Andrew Howlett
Manchester

RAC Foundation executive director Edmund King said the motoring organisation hoped the proposals would lead to a "fairer regime".

"Over-zealous enforcement, confusing signs and lines, and the belief that councils are using parking fines to raise revenue rather than keep the traffic moving are all issues that motorists raise with us," he said.

David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association's environment board, said: "Parking regulations are there for everyone to abide by, to maintain road safety and keep the traffic moving."

The proposals, which affect England only, are expected to come in by the middle of next year.

The Welsh Assembly is planning a similar consultation exercise.


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On the beat with a parking inspector in Manchester



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