Comment: These charges could cause real damage

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The soaring cost of on-street parking in the Capital is exactly the kind of stealth tax that really rankles with people.

We all know that living and working in Edinburgh costs more than in Glasgow. We expect to pay a wee bit more for some of the basics, even if we don’t like it – but some of these rises are extreme.

When it costs 80p an hour to park in Garnethill close to Glasgow city centre, it is hard to justify the £1.80 an hour being proposed for areas like Bruntsfield.

Motorists in the city will soon be paying what are almost certainly the highest parking charges in the UK outside of London. But it is not just car owners who will lose out.

As the Institute of Advanced Motorists points out, every pound spent on parking charges is potentially one less spent in local shops.

In fact, the risk is that sky-high parking charges will have a much bigger impact than that, as shoppers travelling by car bypass the local shops in favour of stores that offer free parking elsewhere.

Visitors to George Street might still be prepared to pay high parking charges for the convenience of being able to park right on the doorstep of the city centre shops and offices, but that is not true of all neighbourhoods. There is a real risk that these charges will cause real damage to the vitality of some local shopping centres.

City leaders have been warning us loud and clear for some time that they were facing some unpalattable choices in order to protect public services.

The main reason that motorists are being targetted as a cash cow once again is that the council has few other places to turn to in order to raise funds.

It should have the power to levy alternative charges, such as a tourist tax or a higher top rate of council tax, so that large swathes of the local population do not have to shoulder so much of the tax burden on their own.