THE number of fines issued by parking wardens has fallen 20 per cent over the last five years – the equivalent of 150 fewer penalties a day.
In 2008-9 meanies slapped a whopping 230,000 tickets on hard-pressed motorists, boosting city coffers to the tune of nearly £7 million.
However last year, in 2012-13, some 47,000 fewer drivers were caught – with just 185,000 of the feared notices plastered to windscreens.
Last night, council insiders said the five-year fall has cost them millions in lost revenue and could be accounted for by parking spaces being gobbled up by the tram works, skint car owners being more wily and the popularity of RingGo – an app which makes it easier for people to pay via their mobile.
Motoring groups have been quick to hail the shift, which follows years of criticism for the quick-to-swoop attendants.
However Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, warned it is likely revenues could be earned other ways – for instance, bus lane cameras.
He added: “It would have been heartening if we could point to a greater flexibility on the part of wardens for this reduction. Unfortunately, I only see the negative angle – that motorists have stayed away because of the trams.”
A total of 1,126,363 penalties were issued between April 2008 and March last year, according to figures released under Freedom of Information laws.
Parking wardens, operated by private company NSL, work in the Capital 24 hours a day and are notorious for their rigorous enforcement. The tram works coupled with the city’s narrow roads and limited spaces mean parking is at a premium.
Councillor Joanna Mowat, the Tory’s transport spokeswoman, said: “The impact of the trams cannot be underestimated. We know, both through figures and anecdotally, people are making fewer journeys into the city centre to avoid difficulties and stress. It’s great if they are using public transport, not so great if they are staying away altogether. I don’t think there’s been a fall in enforcement. If motorists are parking more considerately and paying less fines then that is welcome.”
Transport chief Councillor Lesley Hinds said special dispensations during the tram works may account for the fall. She said: “While the tram works were in full swing, the availability of city centre parking was affected and we granted a number of parking dispensations in order to ease the pressure. This may have contributed to a drop in the number of tickets being issued.”
Martin Mansell, managing director at Looking4Parking, the company which obtained the figures, said: “It is great to see Edinburgh City Council making an effort to lower the amount of parking tickets issued.
“The pressure is mounting for local authorities to make this information more easily accessible for motorists as a matter of course.”