MOTORISTS face parking chaos and shops will lose business if Police Scotland go ahead with plans to scrap traffic wardens, it was claimed today.
The new Scotland-wide force is set to withdraw all police-funded traffic wardens across the country as part of its cost-cutting drive, leaving local authorities to pick up the responsibility if they choose.
But taking on traffic wardens would mean huge extra costs for cash-strapped councils and require special parking orders to go through the Scottish Parliament, which could take up to a year.
In some areas, including Edinburgh, parking enforcement has already been transferred to the local authority, but in Mid, East and West Lothian, the service is still provided by the police.
East Lothian has two traffic wardens – one covering Musselburgh, Tranent and Prestonpans, the other one Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar.
Council leader Willie Innes said: “One of the concerns is that with no traffic wardens to enforce time restrictions in parking bays, motorists will park all day which greatly reduces turnover of vehicles. This could have significant negative impact on shops and businesses in town centres.”
East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray also voiced concern. He said: “It would be a potential free-for-all with no parking for anyone unless they are there first thing in the morning.”
Depute council leader Michael Veitch said he was worried about the likely gap between the withdrawal of the traffic wardens and the council’s ability to create some sort of replacement, should that be the chosen route.
He said: “At the very least our wardens should be given a stay of execution until an alternative can be put in place, otherwise our town centres could descend into chaos while already fragile high streets could be greatly damaged.”
Midlothian Council said it was having talks with the police on the issue.
Roads convener Bob Constable said: “We’re also talking to our neighbouring local authorities to see if there’s some way we can work together.”
West Lothian Council has voted to oppose the withdrawal of the traffic wardens and conducted a survey of community groups. A spokesman said: “From the responses received there is a majority view against the proposal. We have written to Police Scotland to request they withdraw their proposal.”
Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: “The transition to Police Scotland has prompted us to review every aspect of the organisation and our service delivery. The traffic warden service has already been withdrawn from many parts of the country. In keeping with this approach we are now proposing to remove the service from the remaining areas of the country.”
Council anger at review snub
EAST Lothian Council has complained it was not given the chance to have any input into the police review of the traffic warden service.
A report by council officials noted the police letter announcing the Scotland-wide review suggested it would be carried out “in partnership with local authorities”. The report said: “However, there has been no engagement with the council and no opportunity to contribute to the review.”
Police Scotland said the changes were part of the ongoing work to examine every area of the service to deliver the best possible policing for communities, in line with the available budget. It added: “Local authorities and affected staff are now being consulted on the proposed changes.”