CONTROVERSIAL proposals to extend parking charges into the evening and weekends have been criticised by community groups.
Plans set to be considered by councillors could see drivers paying to park in the city centre hours after the current 6.30pm cut-off.
Officials hope the scheme – which would cover the majority of central Edinburgh – will help manage traffic and keep spaces free for permit holders.
But community leaders said it was not needed.
The controversial plans – which also include ditching free Sunday parking – will be put before city chiefs next week and will go out to consultation before a decision is taken.
Tannis Dodd, secretary of the Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council, said moves to extend parking charges into evenings and Sundays were “unnecessary in the outlying areas”.
She said: “Speaking personally, I don’t feel there’s a huge problem with parking in Stockbridge. There doesn’t seem to be any real need to charge people to park here after 5.30pm.”
And Bill Cowan, chairman of the Old Town Community Council, said the drive could prove “counter-productive”.
He said: “On the one hand, they want people to shop in Edinburgh and visit Edinburgh, and then at the same time they make it an untenable place to visit.
“Obviously putting parking charges up is just a really stupid thing to do as they are already very expensive. I think they should review the whole issue of parking. We would like to see a lot more enforcement in certain areas and a lot more double yellow lines.”
Elsewhere, Gordon Renton, secretary of the West End Community Council and the owner of Retro furniture store in Morrison Street, said the new rules would have a negative impact on local businesses.
He said: “The main problem with parking is that the regulations are not currently enforced. In general I would say that if they extend the parking charges then yes, the evening restaurants will suffer – but everyone will suffer. Businesses need a throughflow of traffic – that’s the lifeblood of any of the businesses in the city.”
Parking restrictions on central streets are currently in place from 8.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, and from 8.30am to 5.30pm in outlying areas.
Gordon Henderson, senior development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said “penalising people” for visiting the city was “all wrong”.
But Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport leader, said the proposals followed a “great deal of research and engagement”.
She said: “This is about relieving demand for residents’ parking as well as promoting sustainable travel into the city centre. We want to involve the public in the Parking Action Plan, so I would urge anyone interested to participate in our consultation once it’s live.”