Comment: When do parking charge increases hit saturation point?

George Street where parking charges are set to rise again
George Street where parking charges are set to rise again
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THe latest rise in parking charges in the Capital should not surprise anyone.

The gradual squeeze on the cost of motoring in the city has been going on for years and it is not just the busiest city centre streets that are affected. Anyone looking to park for an hour or two in many parts of Edinburgh, including Stockbridge, Sciennes and the West End, will have to pay well above 50 per cent more than they did five years.

It isn’t a move against the ‘park and stride’ brigade who leave cars on streets close to their offices while they go to work for the day. This is short stay parking so the people affected are those who use their cars to visit family or friends, or visit local businesses, hairdressers, coffee shops, butchers and bakers.

Everyone wants Edinburgh to be a clean and green city where it is easier to make journeys by foot, on bike and by public transport. Charging car owners who want - or need - the convenience of travelling by car is a reasonable part of a civic policy aimed at promoting other modes of transport. Parking charge hikes on their own of course will only ever be a small part of a successful green transport plan.

Relentlessly increasing parking charges has other effects too which must be recognised. They discriminate against those who are less able to get about under their own steam, including some older people for whom their car is the means by which they stay in touch with friends and the local community.

Many businesses whether we like it or not rely on customers being able to visit by car. Push parking charges too high and it damages the vitality of local high streets and some businesses in the city centre. Sure £2 a hour won’t kill anyone, but £3.80 will put off plenty of people. There has to be a place for cars in a dynamic, thriving city. And there has to be a point where soaking car owners reaches its useful limit.