Edinburgh Council bosses blasted for refusing to end their own free parking amid city centre transformation
COUNCIL chiefs have been accused of failing to “show leadership” after rejecting calls to stop parking outside City Chambers while agreeing a strategy telling residents to reduce car journeys in the city centre.
Councillors agreed a 10-year strategy to overhaul how people move around the city centre – putting more focus on walking, cycling and public transport in an attempt to reduce private vehicle journeys by 25 per cent. This Sunday is world car free day, but the council’s SNP-Labour coalition halted calls for councillors and staff to stop parking on the City Chambers doorstep on the High Street.
The proposal was tabled for vehicle use of the quadrangle to be “restricted” and that “motorised vehicles will no longer be permitted to park” in the space. Green councillors stressed that those with mobility issues and being dropped off would be allowed to continue using the area – but added that the space has become “Edinburgh’s most prestigious car park”.
Last month, when the High Street was closed during the day for the Festival Fringe, depute council leader, Cllr Cammy Day, was essentially locked inside City Chambers after failing to remove his parked car in time from the quadrangle before the road was closed.
City councillors claimed almost £24,000 of public money for free bus passes last year – while tallying up a taxi bill of almost £4,000 at the same time. As of May 2019, Cllr Cammy Day, Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron, Cllr Gavin Barrie, Cllr Claire Bridgman, Cllr Norman Work, Cllr Joan Griffiths, Cllr Jason Rust and Cllr Ian Perry all have parking spaces at Waverley Court – while Cllr Iain Whyte has a parking space at the Central Library at George IV Bridge.
“The City Chambers quadrangle is one of the city’s best civic spaces but it has gradually become a car park. During the whole month of August and for special events the space is car-free and for people to enjoy. So my motion was simply seeking to put what works on those occasions on a permanent footing.
The council’s finance and resources convener, Cllr Alasdair Rankin, accepted alternative proposals by Liberal Democrats for an investigation into whether parking at the quadrant is causing problems – not including environment impacts.
Martin McDonnell from cycling campaign group Spokes, questioned whether the council “could at least charge for it” or restrict the space to disabled parking and pick-up only.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Louise Young said: “I am concerned that the Green motion seeks to implement a blanket ban on all motorised vehicles.
“It does seem to me to be a knee-jerk reaction to an issue we don’t actually know the scale or the source of the problem.”