Leader: How many people will think twice about shopping in Edinburgh?

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how many people will think twice about heading in to the city centre to do their shopping once parking charges come into force for the first time?

There is plenty of choice after all when it comes to sending your leisure time and your money on a weekend around and about the Capital.

Head down to Ocean Terminal for a bit of shopping and a film? Take advantage of the increasing choices on offer at Fort Kinnaird? Or how about heading to South Queensferry, Portobello or somewhere else along the coast for a walk, a spot of lunch and a browse around the local shops?

Or do you head for the city centre with all the great attractions it has to offer, knowing you will have to shell out up to £3.50 an hour for parking and that if you are a few minutes late back to your car you might get clobbered with a fine?

Shopping on a Sunday – unless it’s stocking up on the groceries – is a leisure activity as much as anything for most of us these days. And when it comes to ways of spending a few pleasant hours in and around Edinburgh there are tonnes of choices.

Will the introduction of parking charges put car owners off visiting the city centre? Will it encourage many of them to make the trip by public transport or simply head elsewhere? Only time will tell.

There are serious and well-founded concerns, though, that many will choose to spend their time – and money – in other places.

It is easy to understand why the cash-strapped city council is bringing in these new charges. It is one of the few ways that the local authority, with so few options for raising cash, can be pretty sure of making extra money to invest in the public services from which we all benefit.

But what it is doing is gambling with the fortunes of the city centre and the businesses there. It is betting that paying northwards of £10 for an afternoon in the city centre won’t put many of us off.