Edinburgh charges more than almost any other city in the UK for tradespeople to park in the city centre, a report has revealed.
The city’s £1,000 a year annual fee is the second highest in Britain – beaten only by the London Borough of Islington – for a trade parking permit, which allows people such as plumbers or electricians unlimited parking outside clients’ homes in city areas.
It is one of only ten UK local authorities identified as charging more than £500 for an annual tradesperson’s parking permit. Aberdeen also made the top ten list, charging £550 for an annual permit. Experts said high parking charges for tradespeople were “inevitably” passed on to the consumer.
Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business, said: “The complexity of parking charges and restrictions across different local authorities makes it both expensive and confusing for tradespeople trying to service customers and run a successful business. A more standardised approach to parking controls and permits across the UK would save time and money for tradespeople and benefit the wider economy.”
The study also found that tradespeople working across two areas, especially in London, where boroughs operate separate schemes, could run up huge annual bills.
Mr Breton added: “Under the current system, they can incur significant fines if they unwittingly stray and park in another borough when they think they are covered by a permit they have already purchased.”
Gordon Henderson, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, said: “Tradespeople don’t want to be expensive, but it is inevitable that they have to pass on high charges to the customer. This is a huge amount of money to pay out in a year for a small business. Every penny that goes to the council in charges does not go into the local economy.”
He added: “It is all very well for the council to promote public transport, but tradespeople are not going to be able to throw their tools over the shoulder and then jump on the tram to someone’s house, or walk across the city.”
Lesley Hinds, transport convenor of Edinburgh Council, said: “The concessions offered by these types of parking permit will vary greatly between different local authorities. Unlike many other authorities, our permits allow for parking in any pay and display and permit parking spaces across the entire city. The feedback from traders has been overwhelmingly supportive of this scheme, which offers them greater flexibility to carry out their jobs and offers significant savings compared to pay and display parking.”
The report found daily permits can be equally confusing with some councils charging nothing and others charging significant amounts. Many councils expect tradespeople to use a residents’ visitor parking permit, or to pay at a meter. However, sometimes residents parking permits are not even considered acceptable.
Michael Cairns, director of Celsius Plumbing and Heating in Edinburgh, said many companies do not sign up to the annual permit, branding the costs “a joke”.