Lay off motorists says minister



Parking authorities, local councils and wheel clampers have been told to lay off motorists by transport minister Norman Baker.

The Liberal Democrat MP said parking officials should use more common sense and apply a "softer touch" when it comes to handing out punishments.He suggested more vulnerable motorists, such as pregnant women, should be given more understanding when being dealt with.

"I recognise that parking is a very important aspect of life, and that councils and private operators have a legitimate right to enforce parking measures," Baker told Parking News.

"I would just urge them to do so with a soft touch and ensure they are using their powers to do the right thing.

"Parking should not be seen as a cash cow, no matter how tempting that is in these difficult times."

Ministers are expected to unveil a new set of regulations that crack down on private parking firms. Drivers should be given the right to an independent appeal when they are clamped, something that is not possible under the current rules.

Clampers will also have to stick to a code of conduct which will prevent them from lying in wait for a driver.

"It is more of an art than a science. For example, if enforcement officers are hanging around the corner waiting to issue a ticket, then that will obviously cause resentment," said Baker.

"Allowing a heavily pregnant woman to park outside a shop for a few minutes is a sensible thing to do. It is a case of getting that balance right."
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