PARKING charges in Edinburgh are set to rise by up to ten per cent, making the Capital the most expensive place to park in the UK outside London.
And if councillors approve the latest price hike, the cost of parking in the city centre will have doubled in the past seven years.
The council’s draft budget proposes pay-and-display charges in city-centre streets, such as George Street, Queen Street, Market Street and Cockburn Street, should go up from £3.20 to £3.50 per hour.
That compares with central parking charges for up to an hour of £3 in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, £2.60 in Leeds, £2.10 in Dundee, £2 in Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge, £1.70 in Cardiff and £1.60 in Southampton.
When introduced in Edinburgh in 1973, on-street parking charges were 5p for the Capital’s “inner zone” in the immediate city centre and 2.5p for the “outer zone”.
By 2007, it cost £1.80 to park in George Street, so the latest increase would take the cost to almost double the price just seven years ago.
Under the budget proposals, pay-and-display parking charges would also rise in other areas – from £2 to £2.20 in the New Town, and from £1 to £1.20 in outer controlled areas.
Residents’ parking charges are also proposed to rise by ten per cent for the second year running, taking the maximum cost of a parking permit in the central zones from £408 to £448.80.
The price increases would bring in an extra £750,000, which the council says would be put back into the budget for road infrastructure.
It is one key part of the Labour-SNP administration’s draft budget for 2015-16 which has been approved by the council’s finance committee to go out for consultation.
But Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “These are well above inflation rises and they are increasing the prices without offering anything extra in return. Most people will see that as a rip-off.
“There is a big risk they are going to stifle the economy of central Edinburgh by putting people off living or visiting there.
“What they need to realise is that motoring is not just something done by people with lots of money. Many people struggle to run a car and any extra costs they have for that mean they have less to spend in other ways.”
Audrey Cavaye, secretary of New Town and Broughton Community Council, said the move would be seen as another attack on the city’s motorists.
She said: “It was quite a jump last time. It’s not great when they sell more permits than there are spaces so you are not guaranteed a place anyway.”
Finance convener Alasdair Rankin said the council would listen to views put forward during the consultation before the budget is finally approved next February. He said: “If we can discourage overuse of private vehicles in the city centre that would be a good thing in terms of air quality. If there is a really strong reaction, we will look at it again.”
• Core (George Street, St Andrew Square, Charlotte Square, Queen Street, Market Street and Cockburn Street): £3.50 per hour – up 30p.
• Central (Stafford Street and Melville Street area, Morrison Street, Shandwick Place and Old Town): £2.60 per hour – no change.
• Central (West End, Southside, Tollcross, Fountainbridge and Heriot Row): £2.40 per hour – up 20p.
• Peripheral (New Town to St Stephen Street): £2.20 per hour – up 20p.
• Peripheral (Bruntsfield, Sciennes, St Leonard’s, Dumbiedykes, Stockbridge and Dean): £1.60 per hour – no change.
• Extended zones (N1-N5 & S1-S4): £1.20 per hour – up 20p.