Council continues to move by stealth - not openness - over city parking
Once more the issue of traffic management in Edinburgh has hit the headlines. The news that the Controlled Parking Zone programme is to be substantially extended to cover six new areas should come as no great surprise to residents of the city who must be used to waking up to controversial traffic proposals by now.
Despite many misgivings and 1,003 objections, the city’s Transport Committee decided last week to add Abbeyhill, Leith Walk and Pilrig, Leith and North Leith, Shandon, Gorgie, Gorgie North and the current parking area in Lockharton to the network which already covers much of the city.
Once established, residents in these areas will have to fork out for a permit if they wish to continue parking near their homes.
The revenue generated by the purchase of such permits and the pay and display ticket machines is estimated to come in at around £2 million a year which will be “invested” in transport improvements. The council has stated however that the expansion is not about making money but more about tackling climate change by encouraging would-be motorists to use public transport instead.
Meanwhile, a council report also states that a “potential adverse impact” could be that parking problems would merely be shifted to streets neighbouring the new zones as motorists seek to avoid paying the charges. However, the council addresses this in the same report, stating that monitoring processes have already been put in place “to ensure that, should any migration occur, then further action can be taken to address parking pressures that arise in those areas”. In other words, further extensions to the zones to encompass those areas in question and then repeat the process until almost the entire city becomes one great big Controlled Parking Zone?
Now this might be a laudable aim but, if indeed that is the strategy, then it is important that the city authority proceeds by being open and inclusive rather than by stealth. Such as the “Spaces for People” measures which have now been taken forward under Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs.) Thirty- seven such projects will now be bedded into Edinburgh’s traffic management framework as concerns raised by many residents were unceremoniously brushed aside. So much so, that even an innocuous proposal to hold community workshops in two areas of concern was defeated by the combined votes of the SNP and the Greens.
Despite Councillor Scott Arthur, the Transport Convenor, acknowledging that people have felt let down by the way councillors have dealt with the issue over the past few years and his view that the transport committee has a collective responsibility to rebuild trust with city people, the committee duly voted to proceed. Unfortunately, it voted to proceed by stealth rather than being open and inclusive.
What happened to the new listening council we were promised after the local election last May? It seems that some councillors are either unwilling to admit that mistakes were made in the past or too dim-witted to recognise it, preferring a “we know what’s best for you” attitude rather than attempting to convince Edinburgh people of the virtue of some of the measures.
The more things change, the more things stay the same.