Traffic wardens could be patrolling the streets of East Lothian early next year under new plans being drawn up.
East Lothian Council has decided to make a bid to Transport Scotland seeking approval to decriminalise parking enforcement.
The county has been without wardens since February 1 last year when Police Scotland withdrew the service as part of cost-cutting measures.
Although local police have continued to address indiscriminate and dangerous parking infringements, councillors, businesses and residents have been keen to see the return of traffic wardens to tackle chronic parking problems.
East Lothian could follow 15 Scottish local authorities – including the Capital – which run parking management services.
The council’s transport spokesman, Councillor Michael Veitch, described the bid process as “a necessary evil”.
The Conservative member said: “The impetus for doing so was the dreadful decision taken by Police Scotland to withdraw traffic wardens from East Lothian, which was a terrible disservice to our communities.
“While the police have continued to monitor the enforcement of traffic regulations in our town centres on a somewhat limited and ad-hoc basis, I believe it is generally understood that this is not a viable, long-term option and that transferring responsibility to the local authority is therefore required.”
Under the terms of operation, the business case must demonstrate a cash neutral position after five years. Councillors were told that funding for wardens or attendants would be provided by income from parking fines and new charges at the coastal car parks.
East Lothian MSP and former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray added his support to the plans.
He said: “I’m well aware of the additional parking difficulties that have arisen in our towns since the SNP Scottish Government’s police reforms resulted in the high-handed decision to withdraw local traffic wardens.
“The inconsiderate actions of a minority of drivers are affecting local businesses, schools and other road users. While police officers have tried to target problem areas, parking will inevitably be low on their list of priorities.
“I welcome the council’s positive move to address the matter.
“Establishing a parking attendant service is a complex process which will clearly take some time to enact. Once it’s in place, the service will enable action on the parking problems facing local communities.”
In July, the Evening News reported that Edinburgh’s notorious “blue meanie” wardens could be rolled out across Midlothian if council proposals there get the go-ahead, with local authority chiefs vowing to take “drastic” action as they clamp down on drivers.
A number of options are being considered, but the preferred route would see Midlothian “piggybacking” on to Edinburgh council’s contract with NSL, a private firm that has been supplying parking wardens to the Capital for the last nine years.
This would allow Midlothian to take advantage of complicated back office systems already set up in Edinburgh – while cutting costs by avoiding having to buy in wardens from another provider.