PARKING fees are set to soar by up to a third – sparking warnings that motorists will soon be driven away from the city centre.
Plans have been unveiled which would see hourly pay and display charges jump from £2.60 to £3 in areas including the Old Town and West End.
Stockbridge and Bruntsfield have also been targeted for significant hikes.
Motorists and business groups have reacted with fury, branding the proposals evidence of the council’s “anti-car” attitude.
And they have warned that drivers are fast approaching a “tipping point” at which they will stay away from the city centre and other popular locations across Edinburgh.
It is hoped the proposed fee increase – which is subject to public consultation – will raise around £1 million for council coffers in 2016-17, amid a wider drive to secure £141m in savings over the next four years.
City bosses have also revealed they want to hike parking permit charges by five per cent in a bid to net £145,000.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “There will come a tipping point at which people will say, ‘no, it’s too much hassle and it’s too expensive to come into Edinburgh’.
“The main worry we have is that you put people off coming into the city. I think that’s what the council has to be most careful of. The rises seem pretty steep – and whenever you have rises running ahead of inflation, you should be offering something extra, such as more parking bays, and keeping pay and display machines in top condition.”
The latest proposals show Stafford Street, Melville Street and Shandwick Place are among key West End locations in line for hourly rates of £3.
Districts such as Bruntsfield, Sciennes and Stockbridge would be hit with a 40p rise to £2, while motorists in more peripheral areas such as Dalry and Morningside will be asked to swallow parking fees of £1.60 – up from £1.20 currently.
Simon Williams, spokesman for the RAC, said: “The city’s motorists are bound to feel aggrieved by this move.
“While the budgetary pressures on the council are plain for all to see, increased parking charges should not be used as a way of balancing the books.
“So any new parking charges in Edinburgh need to be fair and proportionate – and it is hard to see how the planned rise in pay and display charges is either of these things.”
Business leaders said any parking fee rise could harm independent shops and traders in popular districts such as Stockbridge. Gordon Henderson, senior development manager for Scotland at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “There’s no question this is an anti-car council and has been for quite some time.
“I think traders will be disappointed. It will make some of these areas less attractive – maybe people will park for a shorter period of time. They’ll start to consider why they’re going in.”
City leaders stressed the parking fee plans were still at the proposal stage.
A council spokeswoman said: “Public feedback is key to this process, and several proposals were changed last year after Edinburgh’s residents gave us their views.
“The budget affects the public, and we are willing to listen to these important voices. People can feed back on the proposals online and have their say using the council’s new budget planner.”