Travel writer slams £2 beach fee move

Longniddry beach may soon have a parking charge in place

Longniddry beach may soon have a parking charge in place

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BEST-SELLING author Peter Kerr has joined the battle to stop council chiefs imposing parking charges on people going to the beach in East Lothian.

The award-winning travel writer, who lives in Haddington and describes himself as a “devotee” of North Berwick, condemned the council’s plans for a £2 per day parking fee at 13 beauty spots in the county.

He said: “I think it’s awful. I’m totally against it. It’s neither fair on older people who maybe cannot get to the beach without a car, nor is it attractive to tourists.

“East Lothian Council pay lip service to attracting tourists, but this is one way of showing they are talking rubbish.”

The introduction of parking charges is being proposed by the council’s Labour group, the senior partner in the coalition administration. It says the cash raised would be invested in “coastal regeneration”.

However, Mr Kerr claimed the council’s record on protecting coastal areas was not a good one.

He has been campaigning for action over an exposed sewage pipe, which runs the length of North Berwick’s West Bay beach and which locals have branded an eyesore.

Mr Kerr said: “Not a penny has been spent on that in 22 years.” And he said a neglected grassy area at West Bay, ravaged by storms, was another example of poor stewardship.

Mr Kerr was sceptical about what the parking charges would achieve. He said: “East Lothian Council are always patting themselves on the back about what they are doing to attract tourists, but I would say this is a pretty poor way of attracting tourists.”

However, East Lothian Labour MP Fiona O’Donnell has come out strongly in support of parking charges.

She said: “In terms of balancing the budget I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do. And it was in Labour’s manifesto so it’s not something they are springing on people.

“Scottish Government support for councils has been shrinking year on year and these are the choices we have to make.” Ms O’Donnell also said she did not believe the parking charge would put off tourists or harm businesses.