Comment: Tram row appears to be no-win situation

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The trams will change the commuting habits of thousands of us when the long-awaited services begin in the New Year.

One inevitable impact is that people will look to “park and ride”, abandoning their cars on streets near tram stops for the day while they head into work at the huge office complexes at the Gyle, Edinburgh Park and Gogarburn.

So it is understandable that the city council is looking to act now in an attempt to see off those 
problems at the pass.

The car-owning residents of Saughton and Balgreen are likely to be the worst affected. So it is right that the council focuses on them as it considers what to do. The problem is that this appears to be a no-win situation for those two communities.

No-one wants a daily battle to find a parking space within a reasonable distance of their front door, but equally no-one wants to have to pay for the privilege without a good reason.

When you move into a city centre flat, you expect parking issues. And, while you might think the cost of permits steep, most people would readily accept the need for a controlled parking zone to make life tolerable for car owners.

But Saughton and Balgreen are a different kettle of fish. The people who choose to live there do so partly because it means they have few of the hassles associated with living in the heart of the city. Few, that is, until the arrival of the trams.

Now they are being told they may have to pay up to £160 for a pair of permits to park outside their homes. That is unfair, especially when you consider how much they – like the rest of us taxpayers – have already paid for the tram line. Yes, a controlled parking zone should be considered for Saughton and Balgreen, but it should only be introduced under three conditions.

Firstly, the choice of whether to have one should be made by the residents. There needs to be a clear majority in favour before it goes ahead.

Secondly, permits should be cheap – a lot less than the prices suggested. Finally, residents must be reassured that those cheap prices will stay. They deserve a guarantee that any prices they might set will not rise under the current council administration.