Shoppers in boycott vow over latest car park fees

Graeme Morrice says the 'disgraceful' decision has angered shoppers. Picture: contributed
Graeme Morrice says the 'disgraceful' decision has angered shoppers. Picture: contributed
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SHOPPERS have threatened to boycott a major complex after a third parking price increase in three years.

Increased charges came into force at The Centre in Livingston on Sunday, meaning fees have trebled for drivers since 2011.

There are now fears customers will head into the Capital, where several major shopping outlets offer free parking.

Motorists can park for nothing at Ocean Terminal, the Gyle, Hermiston Gait and Fort Kinnaird, but face stumping up £4.50 for five hours at The Centre – and £7 for six hours.

For an hour’s stay at the West Lothian complex, charges have risen from 50p to £1.50 since June 2011 when they were first introduced at three car parks.

The latest increases were today branded “crazy” and have convinced local MP Graeme Morrice to launch a petition calling for a U-turn.

He wants the fees scrapped completely amid claims they are killing trade, adding there was “no guarantee that the tariff would not be increased yet again, and that there was no exemption for people with disabilities”.

The Centre owner, Land Securities, insisted its charges remained lower than Edinburgh city centre parking.

Shoppers can park for £1.50 an hour in Calton Hill and Stockbridge.

Mr Morrice said: “This disgraceful decision has angered many West Lothian shoppers, including myself, but has sadly not come as a surprise.

“Since the charges were introduced, they have been increased threefold by Land Securities and [car park operator] APCOA and this latest price hike is totally unjustified.

“A number of my constituents and town centre traders have already complained, and some shoppers have told me they are now boycotting The Centre because of the actions of Land Securities and APCOA.”

The online petition has already won backing from angry shoppers, such as Violet Dalziel, who said she would not visit The Centre as often.

Yvonne Harrison said the “crazy” charges would hurt shoppers who were only popping in to use the post office or the bank.

Car parking charges at The Centre were first proposed by Land Securities in 2009 but later scrapped under the weight of public pressure.

Another shopper, Linda Tailford, said the latest rise was “greedy” and insisted that “many people don’t go to Livingston because of the parking charges”.

Paul Hicks asked: “How are the traders going to survive all their customers going elsewhere?”

Simon Haworth, Land Securities portfolio manager, said: “I can confirm that a new pricing structure will be implemented at The Centre, Livingston, following a review of parking tariffs by the car park operator, APCOA.

“This decision will allow charges to remain competitive in the current climate and comparable with town centres in the region. The new parking tariffs are significantly lower than city centre parking.”

No-one at APCOA was available for comment.