Ten minute grace will make “no difference” to footfall - Saffron Walden traders have their say

The new ten minute grace period for motorists was introduced last week by local government secretary

The new ten minute grace period for motorists was introduced last week by local government secretary Eric Pickles. - Credit: Archant

Businesses in the town say a new parking measure which gives motorists a 10-minute grace period will make “no difference” to footfall.

The law was introduced last week by local government secretary Eric Pickles, who said the increased leniency – motorists will only be penalised 10 minutes after their parking ticket has expired – would benefit independent businesses.

But store managers in Saffron Walden were not in agreement.

“I think it may help people linger at the beginning, but at the end of the day you have to pay for parking, you have to be organised,” said Katherine Bouyer, manager at St Elizabeth’s Hospice on King Street.

“I think initially it will make people relax a bit but ultimately we’ll all lapse back into our bad ways.”

Hayley Attridge, manager of neighbouring boutique clothing shop Blue, added: “I’d like to think it would make a difference but I’m not sure.

“If I knew I had ten minutes grace I’d just think of it as one hour and ten minutes rather than an hour.

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“I think it’s nice of them, but I don’t think it will make a difference.”

Mr Pickles, who is the Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, said the measures had also been brought in to stop local authorities making revenue from parking tickets.

“We always thought that was wrong, we said we would do something about it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

“It just seems to me that we asked local authorities to do this and they just ignored it.

“It is an utterly reasonable thing to do. It is about localism, giving the power to the people, to motorists and local residents who now can petition and control the car parking in their area.”

North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP), which collects revenue on behalf of six authorities including Uttlesford, Colchester and Braintree, raised £1,650,000 from fines between 2013-2014 – £400,000 more than was raised from parking charges alone.

However, a spokesman for NEPP told the Reporter: “We were already friendly in regards to overstays so we don’t envisage too much of an impact with further parking fines.”

The spokesman said that the NEPP had previously allowed a five-minute grace period at the end of paid-for parking and timed parking bays – now to be extended by a further five minutes.

“This means that Penalty Charge Notices will not be issued to motorists until at least 10 minutes after their allotted time has ended,” the spokesman added.