TRAM workers have been blasted for treating a fenced-off city centre road as a private car park amid criticism that it “rubs salt in the wounds” of hard-hit businesses.
Furious traders have revealed how contractors’ family cars have been parking within a sealed compound on West Maitland Street for around ten days – despite being blasted last summer for the same offence.
They claim up to 15 vehicles unrelated to the tram project have been using the huge stretch of cordoned-off tarmac each day and are now demanding a crackdown on the “laughable abuse of position”.
It comes one year after city chiefs vowed action against tram staff parking their own cars behind temporary fencing on Princes Street.
The News previously reported how parking attendants had dished out more than 21,000 tickets over the last two years in George Street alone generating around £650,000 for the city coffers. Today, transport chief Lesley Hinds pledged to end the unfair practice and said it was “unacceptable” for tram employees to dodge parking fees.
Shopowner Grant McKeeman, who owns Copymade on West Maitland Street, said the episode was even more galling because of a recent contractor error on the road.
“It particularly frustrating because they are re-doing this bit at the moment following a contractor blunder when laying the concrete,” he said. “There doesn’t even seem to be any work going here which has lead to more and more cars parking in it.
“There have been up to 15 a day here which is ridiculous and taking the mickey. Our customers can’t get anywhere near Haymarket in their cars and here’s these guys driving in and parking cars right at their work which we would all love to do. It’s a laughable abuse of position and an absolute shambles given the way the whole project has been handled.”
Shadow transport convener Joanna Mowat, of the Scottish Conservatives, said traders were “dog tired and bone weary” of disruption caused by the tram works. She said: “They have had to watch their businesses lose money. Shandwick Place has really had it bad because contractors have been in and out and did it up so many times – this is like rubbing salt into the wounds.”
Transport chief Lesley Hinds said: “I was there on Friday morning and reported this parking to the site manager and he was going to deal with this issue. It is in their compound but it is unacceptable for a free car park to be provided for staff/visitors on this project when all other staff who work in this area have to pay. I will continue to bring this unacceptable parking to the attention of the contractor.”
A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said: “The council is clear that any vehicles parked within the site compound should have a legitimate reason for being there. We have asked the contractor to ensure that this is the case.”