A ST Neots firm has called on town centre businesses to back Government plans to allow motorists to park on double yellow lines for up to 15 minutes – without fear of a fine.

Four Counties, in ­Huntingdon Street, supports the idea as part of its Keep Trade Local ­campaign, and says it would encourage ­shoppers into towns and ­regenerate high streets which "have been adversely affected by costly ­parking and fines".

While the insurance brokers warns new parking rules should only be allowed where they can be accommodated safely, it believes double yellow parking could pull customers away from online stores and back to high streets.

Managing director Charles Green said: "Unnecessary parking ­enforcement can have a real impact on our high streets, encouraging many to shop at large out-of-town business parks or online.

"We want to attract more people to visit and enjoy our local shops, which offer some brilliant products at great value.

"Relaxing parking in a safe ­manner is a sure way to get more people to shop in our high street. So we would support any ­feedback from local people by registering their views on our Keep Trade Local Facebook page."

In July, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said one reason the high street was struggling was "over-aggressive" parking enforcement.

Conservatives announced they wanted to issue new guidelines before the next General Election to encourage a grace period of five to 15 minutes, where motorists could park without punishment.

Malcolm Lyons, chairman of Huntingdonshire Federation of Small Businesses, told The Hunts Post: "Anything like this to help increase footfall and encourage more people coming into our market towns is desirable."

However, Katie Williams, St Neots town centre manager, said: "Letting people park on double ­yellow lines won't help ­traffic - our high street is already ­congested.

"Some retailers use the cost of ­parking as a bit of an excuse.

"It is affordable in St Neots - ­people can park at Riverside Car Park, a stone's throw from the town centre, for 40p an hour.

"Working with the town team, we have asked Huntingdonshire District Council for the car parks to be free after 3pm on Thursdays to coincide with our later-night shopping.

"Around 30 shops will be open longer - with people living busy lives, they can't always get in ­during working hours so shops need to adapt."

INFORMATION: To register your support, visit www.facebook.com/ccv.keeptradelocal