MOTORISTS will have to pay to park in the city centre on Sundays for the first time. But after objections from churches and others, the charges will only apply after 1pm.
Council chiefs have also rejected plans to extend parking fees to 9pm on weekday evenings.
Transport convener Lesley Hinds claimed the current lack of any parking restrictions on Sundays caused problems for public transport and people getting around the city centre.
But she said the council had listened to people’s concerns on the proposals for extending controls. “We had more than 4000 representations,” she said. “Some people felt very strongly about it.
“Sundays have changed quite dramatically over the last ten years or so. It’s almost the same now on a Sunday as it is the other six days of the week.
“There is a real problem getting around the city centre because people park anywhere.
“We’re saying we need to accept the principle of having restricted parking and charges on Sundays, but we want to do it for the afternoon period only because we recognise there were significant concerns about Sunday mornings.”
In a consultation exercise, more than 80 per cent opposed parking controls being introduced on Sundays and in the evenings.
But a report to councillors says parking on main routes is affecting “accessibility, road safety, cycling and public transport” and argues extended controls could be a catalyst for improving bus and tram services on Sundays.
The report, to be debated by the council’s transport committee on Tuesday, adds: “Parking survey evidence shows that there is a build-up of parking demand between 10am and noon on Sundays, but that demand peaks between during the afternoon, suggesting that maximum benefit would be achieved by controlling parking at this time.”
Council chiefs have also backed down on plans for the new controls to be extended beyond the city centre to zones 5, 5a and 6, covering Stockbridge and parts of the New Town, where parking restrictions are currently only Monday-Friday.
Residents had objected that such a move would make it more difficult for them to park near their homes.
The new Sunday charges – at the same rates as other days – will apply only in zones 1-4 and between 1pm and 6.30pm.
There are also to be more “shared use” parking spaces – available for both permit holders and paying motorists – and a roll-out of visitors’ permits. Cllr Hinds said among other UK cities, only Stirling, Perth and Bristol had no Sunday parking charges while Glasgow had all-day controls.
The Rev Dr George Whyte, clerk to the Church of Scotland’s Edinburgh presbytery, said the proposed extension of parking charges had caused concern in both the Christian and Muslim communities and he welcomed the council decision.
“City centre churches and the Central Mosque are pleased to learn that parking restrictions and charges will not be imposed on Sunday mornings and weekday evenings. They are grateful for the way in which councillors have listened to their concerns and responded in such a helpful way.”