Government's humiliating U-turn on yellow line parking plans

Eric Pickles reverses on double yellow lines

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Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has executed an awkward U-turn on plans to let people park for 15 minutes on double yellow lines. The proposal was intended to make it easier for people to pop to the shops - and breathe life into the high street. However, after he put the idea to the public, they overwhelmingly rejected it.

So what was wrong with the plan, and what are the alternatives?

When the proposal was initially announced, Pickles said: "I believe we need to give people the good grace to pop into a local corner shop for 10 minutes, to buy a newspaper or a loaf of bread without risking a £70 fine." Even at the time there were reports that the coalition wasn't entirely behind the plan.

Now the Daily Mail claims to have seen a leaked report which shows 55% of people and 73% of businesses raised objections during the consultation process. The report apparently added that the rule change could encourage anti-social and possibly dangerous parking.

The Local Government Association told the BBC it was delighted, saying: "This is a victory for common sense. The LGA argued that these plans would have brought the nation's high streets to a standstill. Allowing parking on double yellow lines would have clogged up town and city centres and we were concerned about the detrimental effect this would have had on local businesses."

Alternatives

Instead, Pickles is proposing a 10 minute grace period at the end of every parking period - to give tardy shoppers a fair chance to return to their car.

Pickles may have over-reached when trying to think big on parking. However, this doesn't mean there's no room for creative solutions to parking problems. While UK councils argue about traffic wardens and parking charges, elsewhere in the world, far more creative ideas have changed the way people park.

Automated parking systems have taken off in a number of cities. There are more than 500 automated parking spaces in Europe and more than 1.6 million in Asia. In Santa Monica if you want to park at City Hall, you drive your car into a lift and leave it for the garage to slot it into an underground storage space. It's more efficient for drivers (who can get their car delivered to ground level in two minutes) and uses far less space than a typical car park - so can squeeze 200 cars into a space traditionally reserved for 50.

Meanwhile, above ground, Sydney has invested in car stackers, which allow eight cars to park in the kind of space usually reserved for one - and sit on a set of shelves above the parking space.

Smart Parking is also increasingly popular. San Francisco, for example, has installed sensors to track parking usage, to highlight available spaces and alter prices to make it cheaper to park in spaces with less demand.

Meanwhile Melbourne is exploring making the alternatives to driving more attractive. It has installed bike pods, including showers and changing facilities, for people who want to cycle to work.

But what do you think. Is Pickles being too creative in finding parking solutions - or is he not being creative enough?