Parking fines in Capital soar

A parking attendant on Chalmers Street
A parking attendant on Chalmers Street
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A SHORT cul-de-sac beside a busy medical centre is today revealed as one of the most-ticketed streets in the Capital.

Parking attendants have handed out a staggering 7700 tickets on 160-metre long Chalmers Street over the last two years – a total second only to George Street.

The number of fines, which brought in around £232,000 to the city coffers, has sparked calls for a review of parking enforcement in the area.

The figures were highlighted as it emerged the number of fines issued in the top 20 ticketed streets had risen, from 47,916 in 2010/11 to 49,212 last year.

Fines from George Street - the most ticketed street in Scotland – numbered 21,680 and generated around £650,000.

Fines from Chalmers Street, which is enforced 8.30am-6.30pm Monday to Saturday - generated £232,000 in revenue for the city council between 2010 and this year. Thousands of patients are believed to be among those handed £60 fines for parking in Chalmers Street next to the NHS Lothian Lauriston Building.

Patients’ groups have now sought assurances that parking attendants are not targeting a street where drivers attending appointments may frequently be delayed and landed with fines.

In response the city council insisted parking was enforced in a fair manner and said it had on many occasions cancelled fines when drivers could show they had parked because of a medical emergency. It also highlighted the fact that St Thomas of Aquins School is on the same street, and that there is also construction under way on the Quartermile development.

Altogether transport chiefs have generated £11.4 million in revenue in the past two years.

Last year’s total of £5.77m is significantly down from 2005 when £7.3m worth of fines were handed out.

Dr Jean Turner, executive director of Scotland Patients Association, said she hoped attendants had not struck upon a “dripping roast” where they were guaranteed a large number of fines. She said: “My cynical interpretation would be that attendants have come across a dripping roast, a street where they know a lot of drivers will be caught out by delays to appointments. It’s very stressful when you know you have an appointment and you are trying to find a space. You could easily run over the parking lines or be delayed and end up receiving a fine.”

She added: “I would like to be reassured that no preferential treatment is given to this street and hope that, with such high numbers of people caught out on a minor road, the council look into why it is happening.”

Andrew Howard, from AA public affairs, suggested the city council could not afford to relax restrictions on any street which can be legally enforced because of budget constraints.

In January 2011 the Evening News told how a slump in the number of tickets handed out had left transport chiefs with a £1.2m shortfall in revenue. Mr Howard said: “Most local authorities are under pressure to continue to make money and parking enforcement is one of the few areas where they have control over the ability to do so.

“They may well need to keep the parking revenue up and therefore target areas where there are people infringing the rules, for whatever reason.”

Transport chiefs said they were sympathetic to those who were caught out while attending a medical appointment and said in many cases they had quashed fines. Around 20 per cent of fines handed out on Chalmers Street were successfully appealed or quashed.

The Princess Alexandra Eye Pavillion, the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre, and Chalmers Street Dental Clinic are located around the main building.

Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “We would ask that drivers respect the parking regulations in place in order to keep the street safe and accessible.”

Motorists on the road to ruin

It is a game of cat and mouse – and there is only one winner.

On Chalmers Street yesterday afternoon, it was clear to see how it has achieved its unenviable position on the Capital’s parking ticket league.

A stream of motorists circle the area ready to pounce on any available space. Some may give-up and take a risk – if they do it will cost them dear.

When the Evening News visited, parking attendants patrolled the street like clockwork, every ten to 15 minutes.

Within moments of arriving we saw tickets being issued to cars that were either over their time limit or illegally parked.

For motorists, the main problem seems to be not knowing how long their appointment will last and so not knowing how much to pay.

Those using the likes of the dental or eye pavilion services are said to be among the regular victims of the enforcers.

For Gordon Brownlie, from Livingston another issue was the price to park.

“They’ve recently just started putting in car parking prices where I stay – which is 50p for two hours,” he said. “When you consider it, you can do a bit of retail therapy for 50p but if you want to go and see the doctor, it’ll cost you £2.20.”

Cash drive

Most-ticketed streets in Edinburgh 2010-12

1. George Street 21,680

2. Chalmers Street 7739

3. Chambers Street 7165

4. Bruntsfield Place 5805

5. St Andrew Square 5496

6. Morningside Road 4879

7. George Square 4646

8. Melville Street 3851

9. Johnston Terrace 3529

10. Heriot Row 3276