A Conservative councillor has been labelled a “pound-shop Jeremy Clarkson” after warning that suburban residents will foot the bill as part of an overhaul of city centre parking.
The city council’s transport and environment committee will consider £314m transformation plans for a 10-year strategy to shake up how people move around the city on Thursday – including creating a pedestrian priority zone, an integrated cycling network and changes to buses travelling through Edinburgh.
The final strategy, still to be subject to public consultation, aims to “significantly reduce the availability of on-street car parking within the city centre” and will “prioritise critical provision of resident and blue badge parking”.
It adds: “Revenue losses from current on-street parking supply could be off-set by new charges and greater control of off-street parking.”
A host of streets are set to be closed to traffic – with on-street parking being removed. The strategy points to the “selective removal of spaces on Chambers Street, Blackfriars Street and St Mary’s Street as needed to support new cycleways and bus priority”. The council also intends to trial a “parking free day” which would see some existing spaces used for alternatives one day a week.
Recommendations in the council’s strategic review of parking includes potentially introducing new controlled parking zones in 27 areas including Leith Walk, Roseburn, Abbeyhill, South Morningside, Leith, Bonnington, Corstorphine, Portobello, Gorgie and Easter Road.
City centre Conservative Cllr Joanna Mowat, said: “It looks as if people who can park outside their homes for free will be paying to subsidise the loss of parking on George Street and other parts of the city centre.
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“The removal of parking in the city centre leaves a large funding gap and proposals should show how this is to be addressed given current funding constraints in the council.”
Tory transport spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, blasted the proposals on Twitter.
He said: “Here you have it, Edinburgh residents. Edinburgh Council plan to strip away pay and display parking – and free movement of vehicles in city centre – will be part funded by huge swathes of suburban Edinburgh being turned into controlled parking zones – where you will foot the bill.”
But Green councillors have hit out at the Tories’ concerns.
Green city centre Cllr Claire Miller said: “Cllr Cook has for some time revelled in his role as a pound-shop Jeremy Clarkson, defending to the end the unrestricted use of cars even where the cost is horrendous pollution and congestion in our city.
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“His views are out of touch with the thousands of people who responded to the consultation on city centre transformation. He has no vision or clue as to how a 21st century city centre should work so is left sniping on the sidelines to the obvious embarrassment of some of his own colleagues.
“If Nick wants to be taken seriously I suggest he comes up with his own coherent strategy which tackles traffic congestion in the age of a climate emergency.”
Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Maccinnes, said: “Realigning the available space to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists will undoubtedly impact on parking, but by improving conditions for walking, cycling and public transport, I’m confident that these changes will help achieve the modal shift a major, European city like Edinburgh needs, in a time of climate emergency.
“Our parking strategy, which has been in process for some time, responds to the changing habits of residents and visitors – such as Sunday shopping – as well as the drive towards cleaner vehicles. Measures to address this, like Sunday parking charges and a parking permit surcharge for diesel vehicles, in addition to calls from residents in outlying areas to extend the controlled parking zone to limit commuter parking, will of course offset the loss of parking income in the city centre, but we are by no means using this as a subsidy.”