Beach charges: ‘Self-defeating plan will only put off visitors’

TODAY the Evening News launches a campaign to halt plans to charge for parking at East Lothian beaches.

The proposals have already caused an outcry across Edinburgh and the Lothians and rightly so.

This isn’t just an argument about keeping these fantastic natural attractions free – although that is clearly an important consideration.

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The main problem here is that charging for car parking in a bid to raise funds to maintain our coastline just doesn’t add up.

There are already doubts about whether the charge would raise anything like the £1 million a year which the council predicts.

And any money that it does raise will be at the cost of local businesses and residents who will inevitably suffer as many visitors are discouraged from taking a trip to our beautiful coastline.

There is a flawed logic in imposing a fee to fund “coastal regeneration” which serves to discourage visitors.

While £2 may not be a lot of money to many people, and the council are undoubtedly in the middle of a severe funding crisis, there will be no turning back once the fees are introduced. The only change is likely to be fees going up over time.

The last council identified £1 million for spending on coastal improvements without the need for a charge.

This so-called “tourist tax” is not the answer. Join the Evening News campaign by following the instructions on Page 5 today and let’s make sure we Keep Our Beaches Free.

The going rate

THE paypackets of senior Lothian Buses bosses revealed today will seem frankly incredible to many readers.

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How can people in charge of a publicly-owned bus company earn more than the man in charge of policing Lothian and Borders or, come to think of it, the man in charge of the UK?

But before David Cameron considers swapping Downing Street for Annandale Street, there are some important factors to consider.

Naturally, the figures revealed by the Evening News will raise questions in the City Chambers today, but those involved cannot be criticised – they do a good job with a successful company and are simply picking up the salary which has been agreed.

It is right that the pay is scrutinised and serious thought given to the question of whether or not this is the price we have to pay to ensure an efficient bus service.

The salaries may well seem incredible, but they would be a scandal if the Capital did not boast one of the best bus services in the UK.