Plan to raise parking costs for gas-guzzlers in capital set to stall
MOVES to introduce higher parking charges in Edinburgh for the most-polluting cars are set to be stalled as the controversial plans are put out for public consultation.
The proposals aimed at encouraging people to switch to greener vehicles have divided opinion in the capital and were set to be discussed at today's council transport committee.
But a final decision now looks to be months away, as city leaders yesterday pledged to carry out a public consultation.
The plans would mean owners of the biggest gas-guzzlers would see the cost of an inner zone permit double from 160 a year to 320. But drivers of the least-polluting vehicles in the outer zones could see their charge fall from 80 to just 15.
Residents would also face higher charges for second vehicles.
The move for more consultation has won support from some opposition politicians, but the Greens said their rivals' environmental credentials were on the line if they fudged a decision.
Steve Cardownie, the deputy council leader, said: "We are concerned that this might end up as some sort of trendy window-dressing exercise without actually making much of a difference to the problem they are trying to address.
"We need to take a proper look at this, as I don't see where ability to pay has been taken into consideration. It just needs to go out to a wider consultation."
Council officials estimate that more than 11,000 people will pay less under the scheme, with just 3,348 residents paying more.
The council expects this to result in a drop in income of nearly 44,000.
Iain Whyte, Tory group leader, said: "The officers claim in the report that there had been some consultation, but there was not any widespread consultation as far as I'm aware.
"The proposals as they stand are turning parking charges into a tax, whereas they were originally meant to cover the cost of the parking operation."
Any changes to parking permits would involve a new traffic regulation order, which could result in a public hearing before the scheme was adopted.
Therefore, any new scheme is not likely to be in place before 2010 at the earliest.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, Labour's city transport spokesman, said: "The broad principle is fairly sound, but I think we do need to look again at how we incentivise people to look more carefully at their cars and the environment.
Councillor Steve Burgess, the Greens' environment spokesman, said: "All political parties should be supporting this move, rather than trying to scupper it. Any claim to having green credentials is on the line here."
And Jenny Dawe, the council leader, added: "We fully understand that this is not something that could be implemented straightaway, and we will use the report from officers as a basis for going out to consultation on the issue."
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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