POLICE are turning a “blind eye” to banned vehicles entering Holyrood Park, a conservation group claims – with figures showing just ten fines were issued in the last year.
A crackdown on commercial vehicles travelling through the royal park was introduced last year following complaints from residents of nearby Duddingston Village about increased levels of speeding traffic.
Park bosses sought to enforce a ban on “white van men” but were forced to pull back from including taxis and hearses in the restrictions.
Surveys carried out last year showed that around 25,000 vehicles use the park on weekdays, with around nine per cent being commercial vehicles, which include caravans, motorhomes and any vehicle seating more than a driver plus seven people. On-the-spot fines are £30.
When the ban was introduced, 25 on-the-spot fines were handed out to drivers of commercial vehicles in the first month, by the police on behalf of Historic Scotland,
But Roger Crofts, of Duddingston Village Conservation Society, said: “We did our own survey, my wife and I, and found the number of commercial vehicles travelling through had reduced a little but there’s still a lot coming through. I know police have a lot of other things to do but I think they are turning a blind eye to this.”
Asked why he thought there had only been ten spot-fines in the last year, he said: “It’s a nonsense. There is almost no enforcement as far as I can see. Mobile cameras being put up in the park were objected to by Historic Scotland because they said it would destroy the historic ambience of the park.
“But if you introduce them you can change behaviour. It’s not difficult, we do it everywhere else like bus lanes, why can’t we do it through this bit of the park as well? It’s a rat run and would also allow us to check people’s speed.”
A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said discussions with operators of commercial vehicles had led to a reduction in numbers using the park. She said: “Fixed penalties for breaching the restrictions on the use of roads within Holyrood Park are issued by the police and Procurator Fiscal.
“But this is an action of last resort and the overall response to the information campaign to make people aware of restrictions has been successful.”
A police spokesperson said “Lothian and Borders Police is committed to listening to local community concerns and the issues around commercial vehicles driving through the park was brought to our attention around 18 months ago. In response, we undertook a considerable piece of work to modernise the legislation in conjunction with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Historic Scotland.
“There was a considerable education phase, followed by an enforcement phase, and officers will still use their discretion when issuing any fixed penalty tickets. A survey conducted last year showed there were fewer offending vehicles driving through the park, and the legislation does appear to be working.”