Wednesday October 24th 2018
Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp
Town centre parking charges could be given the go-ahead next week in East Lothian as councillors are asked to approve a controversial local transport strategy.
The new strategy would give East Lothian Council the right to introduce charges for on-street and off-street parking in town centres.
However, attempts to push the plans through last year stalled after both Conservative and SNP councillors refused to back them.
Council officials had asked for the right to put the strategy out to public consultation last December but were denied approval because parking charges were opposed in both those parties’ election manifestos.
A revised version of the strategy was allowed to go out for public consultation in February after the Conservative councillors withdrew their objection, pointing out that any decision would have to come back to the council before it was approved.
A report to the council shows that only 13 per cent of those who took part in the consultation ‘strongly agreed’ with the council reviewing introducing charges, with 27 per cent ‘tending to agree’ and 60 per cent against it.
And only one in 10 respondents strongly backed the continued charging of parking fees at the county’s coastal car parks, which had the least backing of all the parking management proposals.
The parking management strategy will be put before councillors for approval on Tuesday.
Its proposed new parking policies include one which states: “The council will assess the demand on town centre parking supply and appraise, where appropriate, the introduction of charging for off-street car parks and/or for on-street parking places.
“The introduction of restrictions and charging has the potential to boost the financial viability and community/business prosperity of an area by increasing turnover.”
The parking management strategy also proposes introducing standard 90-minute waiting restrictions across all town centres and further reviews of coastal car parks and residents’ permit schemes, although initial plans to charge £40 for a permit, which is currently free, have been withdrawn.
There are also proposals to introduce controlled parking zones in town centres which would give 25 per cent of the kerbside parking to residents with permits.
In Musselburgh, the largest town in the county, most of the town centre could become a controlled parking zone and the residents’ parking area would be dramatically increased to stretch from Stoneybank to Eskview.
Other potential measures to improve parking include a multi-storey car park on The Glebe in North Berwick and clearways – stretches of road with no parking allowed – in North Berwick, Dunbar, and Tranent.
The new strategy will be put before councillors at a meeting of the full council in Haddington Town House.Tweet Share on Facebook