Capital car parking charges set to soar
CHARGES to park on many streets in Edinburgh could be increased by up to 42 per cent, it emerged today.
The council is considering raising charges in two of the city’s three parking bands including parts of the
city centre. The prime rate of 1.80 an hour on streets like George Street and around St Andrew Square will remain unchanged, but on many neighbouring streets motorists will have to pay 1.60 an hour to park in the city centre compared with the current rate of 1.20 - a rise of 33 per cent.
In outlying zones, the authority’s transport officials are planning a rise of 30p from the current rate of 70p an hour - an increase of 42 per cent.
The city council already makes a total of around 17.3 million from on-street parking charges, compared with 11.3m four years ago.
However, city development director Andrew Holmes has put forward the proposal of fresh increases in a bid to help his department generate around 1.5m over the next financial year to avoid budget cuts
Councillors will be asked to sanction the proposal as part of the authority’s budget-setting process next month when it will try to meet a projected council tax increase of four per cent.
However, critics said it was "outrageous" for the council to consider imposing parking increases on motorists when it is also pressing on with plans to introduce congestion charging in the Capital within three years.
The zones affected only allow a maximum of two or four hours’ parking and are patrolled by the Enforcer parking attendants.
Tim Steward, chairman of the Edinburgh branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, reacted angrily, saying: "This is yet another message from the city council that people who drive cars and wish to shop aren’t welcome in Edinburgh.
"I don’t think motorists and shoppers will find it at all helpful. Any gains that will be made from the extra charges are bound to be outweighed by the losses to the retail sector."
Murrayfield Tory councillor Jim Gilchrist, who lives in the New Town, said: "It’s outrageous the council is even considering this when the parking charges in the city centre are already among the highest anywhere in the country and parking permits are higher than anywhere else. The council is already planning an extra charge on motorists with its road tolls. An increase of up to 40 per cent is just too much."
Tory group spokesman Allan Jackson said: "These proposals are over-simplistic. They’re being put forward as a means of allowing the department to balance its budget. We want to see a whole review of on-street parking so that you pay less if you’re staying for a shorter period.
"The entire system needs restructured so there’s more incentive to park in the city centre."
Lib Dem transport spokesman Fred Mackintosh said: "We’ve not yet decided whether we’ll be proposing any increase in our own budget.
"But any rise in parking charges shouldn’t just be imposed to help keep the council tax down. The revenue has to be ploughed back into road and pavement improvements. It’s not on to increase parking charges for shoppers if they trip and fall over on the pavement when they get out of their car."
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Retail Consortium said: "Any car parking charge increases over the coming years will have to take into account their effect on the retail sector in the city centre and we will raise this issue in our ongoing discussions with the city council."
City transport leader Andrew Burns said nothing would be decided until the budget meeting next month.
"It will be up to the administration to approve any recommendations," he said.
Councillor Burns has already hinted that motorists may be offered cut-price parking in the city centre once congestion charging is up and running.
The city’s transport leader has promised the council will seriously consider a proposal by the Scottish Retail Consortium that shoppers should be given 2 off their parking to effectively wipe out the cost of the toll. The idea is that parking charges in the city centre would be cut for drivers who arrive after the morning rush hour and stay for less than five hours.
But the only olive branch now on the table is a promise of 15m to be earmarked in the first three years of congestion charging for initiatives to promote Edinburgh.
The council provides about 12,000 on-street parking spaces in the city - 6500 residential parking bays and 5500 pay-and-display spaces.
Increases for residential permits are not thought to be on the council’s agenda.
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