Church-goers slate plans for Sunday parking charge

Members of the  congregation of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in the West End. Picture: Robert Ormerod
Members of the congregation of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in the West End. Picture: Robert Ormerod
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Church-goers at Scotland’s largest cathedral have slammed controversial plans to charge for Sunday parking.

A petition has been lodged by St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in the West End opposing the proposal, which city council chiefs said would improve “turnover” of bays and boost trade.

The majority of responses to a six-week consultation on radical transport plans for Edinburgh raised concerns about either the new charges or the blanket roll-out of 20mph zones across the city, the Evening News can reveal.

The city council said it had received about 2000 responses to its blueprint outlining the future of the city’s transport network.

Other measures being considered include axing 40mph zones, reducing around 25 main roads to 30mph in a bid to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Streets near schools would be shut during rush hours.

Low emission zones which penalise polluting vehicles could also be introduced on main routes such as Queensferry Road, where nitrogen dioxide levels are high.

Cathedral secretary Judith Lewis said about 230 signatures had been collected from the congregation in direct opposition to Sunday parking fees. Two services are held at the 19th-century cathedral every Sunday.

Ms Lewis said: “We had 
people queuing up to sign the petition. Our members come from quite a wide area. The city-centre churches tend to draw people in from not just the immediate area.

“Quite a lot of them are elderly. It would have a very serious impact on people being able to attend the cathedral services. We also felt that it’s the one day in the week when people generally can get around and park in the city without having to worry about parking charges.

“We’re aware that they would improve bus services with the money that was found as a result of the new parking charges, but on the other hand a lot of the people who do come are very elderly and/or ­disabled.”

Michael Apter, chairman of the West End Association, said he was not surprised the plans were met with criticism.

He said: “It’s the only day of the week the city centre has a level playing field with the out-of-town shopping and other cities. It’s free in Glasgow on a Sunday. It doesn’t fit with other things that the council are doing. The council do need to look at parking across the city. Provision and price are two issues they need to address sensibly and in a fair manner.”

Ian Maxwell, chairman of cycle campaign group Spokes, said the group’s submission had strongly supported blanket 20mph zones in residential streets.

He said: “We’d like to see the council be as bold as possible because we know from elsewhere, like Portsmouth, where there was initially concern about it, they actually found the zones to be very beneficial.”

City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “We were very pleased with the response to our Local Transport Strategy consultation – around 2000 people took the time to give us their views.”