In the world of modern business idiom, the concept of a fine line between a great idea and a foolishness, lateral thinking, that no idea is to stupid to suggest will be recognised by many people. However these concepts are intended to operate within a safe environment with trusted people present. In such a place the wisdom of the other people who are part of the discussion should ensure that the foolish ideas, even if they contain the seeds of brilliance never see the light of day. Inevitably the ideas sometimes appear so ridiculous that even the person who comes up with the concept should self censor. When an organisation allows very stupid ideas to emerge it must raise questions about the competence of the people concerned or efficacy of the organisation.
The idea in question was inspired by a sensible recommendation in the 2011 review published by Mary Portas, to make town centre parking more affordable. As you can see from this report the Portas suggestion has been allowed to drift into madness with a suggestion made by Eric Pickles that all drivers be permitted to park for up to 15 minutes on double yellow lines free of charge. The current rules regarding single and double yellow lines are clearly stated on this government website.
It feels rather lame to even be writing on this subject as it seems so clearly in the camp of the ideas that should not even have passed the self censorship of the person who first conceived of the idea. However not only did that censorship not happen, but the private coterie also let it go unchallenged and then it has become something that the Conservative part of the coalition are arguing for, despite their coalition partners having the wisdom to see its stupidity.
If the Government want to free up some parking, they could clearly ask local government to review its parking restrictions on the single yellow lines within the area of their jurisdiction. They could also suggest that local government reviews its use of double yellow lines in areas where a single line might be more appropriate. There are certainly places that I know of which have double lines when a single line (or even no line) would appear more suitable. However inviting people to park for 15 minutes at a time on any double yellow line they fancy is plain bonkers. Some double yellow lines are in place due to the substantial danger presented if vehicles are parked, others are intended to prevent one vehicle from preventing a lorry or bus or emergency vehicle from passing. It seems unnecessary to go on regarding this issue, except that a political party which is purportedly running the country sees this as an idea they are willing to promote as a good one, even if it is in the silly season.
It should be remembered that Eric Pickles who is claiming this idea as his own, has form regarding promoting foolish ideas. The most obvious example of this was a list of 50 ideas, some of which were equally barmy in the context, that he published last Christmas as a present for local government. As entertaining as some of this might seem, we may only need one driver who takes ‘advantage’ of Erics announcement to park on double yellow lines for an injury or worse to occur. Government doesn’t need to be humourless, or lacking in sparkle. However we do need it to be credible and maintain dignity. This policy is clearly ridiculous and must bring the judgement of its author and his colleagues into serious question.