Comment: No-one likes paying them at best of times

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sky-high parking charges are about as popular with shoppers as Christmas is with turkeys.

No-one likes paying them at the best of times – and
especially not just now when we are all feeling the pinch from the rising cost of living.

So it is something of a surprise to see The Centre in Livingston pushing up its fees again just three years after introducing parking charges.

It is a risky move because it
effectively changes the formula which has made The Centre such a success in recent years.

Many shoppers have been drawn there, especially from the west of Edinburgh, by the combination of shopping, eating places and cinema, and free – or at least cheap – parking. When Edinburgh city centre and so many other out-of-town shopping centres are within easy reach, the ease and cost of parking has always been a big part of the attraction.

The latest price increases certainly end that. When a pensioner has to pay £1.50 to park just to pop in and out of the post office or a family on a shopping trip faces a £4.50 charge for a five-hour stay, then parking can no longer be
described as cheap.

It is easy to understand why so many shoppers – and traders –are getting hot under the collar, threatening to boycott The Centre and fearing higher charges will drive visitors away.

There will be no such concerns at the Gyle and Hermiston Gait shopping centres, which vie with Livingston for the custom of thousands of families.

Not only do they have no plans to introduce parking charges, getting to them has just become that bit easier for many, thanks to the launch of the tram with stops convenient for both.

The Gyle is also holding out hope of opening a new Primark store which could add up to a triple whammy for them in the battle to attract the shoppers of west Edinburgh and their hard-earned cash.