Tuesday April 25th 2023
How North Berwick High Street will look with parking ban in place.
Church-goers and carers will be able to park for free under a new town centre charging system approved for popular tourist destination North Berwick.
The East Lothian town will become the first in the county to introduce parking charges across three separate zones which could bring in more than £1 million in annual revenue for the local authority.
A meeting of East Lothian Councillors approved the proposals which will see residents pay for a £40 annual parking permit and charges of between 50p to £5 for visitors to the town during the day.
However they faced a call from local ward councillor Jeremy Findlay for the decision to be delayed amid claims locals wanted more time to consult.
Councillor Findlay told the meeting he had received hundreds of emails from local residents asking for time to respond to the proposals with both North Berwick Community Council and the town’s area partnership requesting a delay.
His call for a delay was rejected by fellow councillors by a vote of 17 to four as council leader Norman Hampshire said an extensive public consultation on the proposals had closed in December last year offering ample time to respond.
A report on the proposals saw several changes made to the original plans following public responses.
They included extending the amount of free town centre parking before charges kicked in from 30 minutes to 45 minute in response to local traders requests; increasing the long stay maximum from five hours to six hours to accommodate golfers and making parking free in the town centre on Sundays until 1pm after concerns were raised by church users about having to pay to attend services.
Initial plans to split the town centre into four zones were also reduced to three zones and residents living in them will no longer be restricted to spaces marked as resident only but will also be able to park for free in charging spaces in their zones.
Carers and health care professionals who require to park on streets will be able to apply for exemptions so they do not have to pay and plans to introduce a £12 overnight charge for onstreet parking amended to ban overnight parking for ‘high sided vehicles’ and introduce designated larger car park spaces at a rate of £20 a night.
Earlier in the meeting, councillors also approved a separate plan to ban parking from the High Street in North Berwick, widen the pavements and introduce designated loading bays and blue badge spaces.
Rejecting the plans to introduce the new parking charges in North Berwick, ward Councillor Findlay said the question of whether the town had a parking problem was debatable with just under half of those who took part in the public consultation saying it had.
And he raised concerns that charging people to park in the town centre would not benefit local businesses and could, in fact, damage them.
He said: “In Berwick Upon Tweed, where there was free parking in the town centre, charges were introduced and it was decimated.
“These proposals are all about raising money for the council and nothing to do with benefits for North Berwick.”
However Councillor Shona McIntosh, Scottish Greens councillor, dismissed his claims saying other town had flourished after charges were introduced.
She said: “There may be doubt over whether there is a parking problem in North Berwick but what there is no doubt about is that there is a climate emergency and transport emissions is a big factor in that.”
Councillors Lee-Ann Menzies and Colin McGinn, whose wards include East Lothian town of Tranent, both said they looked forward to similar parking management schemes being introduced in their local community.
Councillor Menzie said: “I can’t wait for this to come to Tranent.”
Councillor McGinn added: “It is not about money, it is about making sure our high streets are safe.”
The plans for North Berwick are the first stage in an East Lothian Parking Management Strategy which will see each town consulted on changes which could be introduced but is likely to differ from community to community.
The report to council said the parking charges would bring in revenue of £1.09 million per year which would be ring fenced for use on road an transport services.Tweet Share on Facebook