Let’s get something straight; unless you have a duly authorised permit to stop on a restriction you shouldn’t be there. The only official exemptions are;
The Armed forces (None of us would ever be dumb enough to try and book an APC or a Challenger Tank – Although we might send an unpopular newbie in to try – He, he, he.)
The Police (We occasionally need their help)
Ambulances and Official Paramedics (Likewise, but London occasionally does things differently.)
Fire Brigade (Yeah, right. Like we’re that stupid)
Post Office Delivery vehicles (Not UPS, DHL or any other courier company)
Security vans (They are usually listed in the Controlled Parking Zone orders for the area).
Removals vans have exemptions in certain places too, but that depends on the CPZ orders for the Special Parking Areas.
Anyone else is fair game. If the driver is present they get moved on (Well at least I do it that way), otherwise the wheels turn and a parking ticket is issued. Even the RSPCA is not exempt. The people who went to try and ‘rescue’ that whale in the Thames last year (Even if it died anyway) were not exempt. Guide dogs for the blind are not exempt. Cancer Research is not exempt. If you aren’t on the above list of ‘official’ exemptions; park legally or get booked.
The problem is that all the do gooders want to be given exemptions and there’s no mechanism for ensuring they’re being honest or not. Trust between public and enforcement has broken down because it’s fashionable to do what you please and sod everyone else. Ergo, we are not allowed discretion in these matters, although I often turn a blind eye for a couple of minutes if someone asks really nicely.
The problem is that urban Britain is just too small for said sentimentalist antics. If it wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be in a job.
Incidentally, any ‘Grace period’ of observation that we give is purely at the issuing officers discretion. Five minutes is a compromise figure because the odds are that a non liveried vehicle on a restriction is more likely to be taking the piss than loading. If an Officer is sure someone is parked and not loading, he / she can issue immediately. However, if a plasterers van is on double yellows outside McDonalds, I’m not likely to allow much more than two to five minutes either.