Council chiefs in St Helens have introduced new rules cutting the amount of time traffic wardens must observe a vehicle suspected of breaching parking regulations before issuing a ticket.
At present, wardens in the borough have to spend 15 minutes observing a vehicle parked in a loading bay where there is no evidence of loading or unloading taking place.
But new rules, approved by St Helens Council’s cabinet, mean wardens can issue a fixed penalty notice after just five minutes.
Goods vehicles will now be given a 10 minute period of grace.
Coun Terry Shields, cabinet member for Green, Smart and Sustainable Borough, said: “These changes will ensure that our parking contractor can deal with those road users who choose to ignore parking restrictions which has become an increasing problem particularly around our schools.
“The best way to avoid a parking fine is to abide by the restrictions, don’t take the chance and please park appropriately.”
A council spokesman said: “For vehicles parked in a restricted street/loading bay where there is no evidence of loading/unloading taking place, a Civil Enforcement Officer will observe the vehicle for a period of five minutes for a private motor car, and ten minutes for a goods vehicle.
“If, during the observation period, no evidence of loading/unloading is seen, the Civil Enforcement Officer will have the right to issue a Penalty Charge Notice.
“The loading/unloading activity must be a continuous process; however vehicles can be present in a restricted street/loading bay for as long as it may take to complete the process.
“An ‘instant’ Penalty Charge Notice may also be issued in exceptional circumstances where the Civil Enforcement Officer has evidence which supports the action of issuing the Penalty Charge Notice without observing the vehicle for the minimum periods indicated.
“Previously, the adopted observation period was 15 minutes for all vehicles prior to the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice. However, this extended observation period has caused difficulties in enforcing restrictions, particularly around schools.
“This has led to complaints from residents, ward councillors and businesses, largely as a result of indiscriminate parking and the apparent lack of action being taken to carry out Civil Parking Enforcement.
“The purpose of this change in policy is to ensure that all parking restrictions across the borough are enforced appropriately, making sure there are fewer incorrectly parked cars, resulting in fewer accidents, better traffic flow, clearer road and pavements, making it safer for all road users.”