Comment: Money has to come from somewhere

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Britain’s first parking ticket was issued to Dr Thomas Creighton on September 19, 1960 when he parked outside a London hotel to attend a patient suffering a heart attack.

There was a public outcry and he was told to forget the £2 fine.

Since then little has changed. We have grown accustomed to detesting parking wardens and the council bureaucrats who administer the system, even though managing parking in the centre of Edinburgh is a necessary evil.

Since parking was decriminalised in the Capital in 1998 the number of tickets has soared. Armies of private wardens swarmed over popular parking zones issuing tickets with little humanity or wit. Even a hearse was ticketed.

Now at last the motorist seems to be fighting back. In the last five years the number of tickets issued has fallen by around 150 a day.

A reduction in parking spots as a result of the tram works has been blamed, as well as the recession. The council also introduced RingGo which gave the option to pay by mobile phone.

So good news? Well, yes and no.

The council’s income from parking fines has dropped by £1.5 million a year – and that money has to be found from somewhere else.

And where else but the motorist?

The answer has been bus lane cameras, which are poised to be expanded across the city.

Like the dreaded Meanies, these cameras perform a positive function and are necessary measure.

But like the parking wardens, they can be a blunt tool which can result in normally law-abiding citizens paying fines for a minor offences. That leaves a sour taste.

The council rule book says there is no excuse to be in a bus lane. Well, there are sensible reasons why a car might temporarily stray – and it doesn’t make us criminals who should be fined.

The Meanies made us all mad. The city should bear in mind the lessons from that episode and ensure fairness is the watchword when it comes to fining motorists.