A RADICAL shake-up of the Capital’s parking rules is set to see charges extended later into the evening, it has emerged.
Councillors are looking at plans which would extend the current 6.30pm cut-off in the city centre as part of a bid to manage traffic and favour permit holders.
But the proposals have already been slammed as “absolute nonsense” by motoring experts and restaurant bosses, who claim the scheme could harm businesses.
The changes would cover the majority of central Edinburgh from Coates in the west to St Leonard’s in the east, and from Stockbridge in the north to the Meadows in the south.
Other plans set to be outlined in a report to the council’s transport and environment committee include ditching Edinburgh’s free Sunday parking tradition and making spaces “shared use” – meaning they can be used by both resident permit holders and pay and display customers.
The controversial plans will be put before city chiefs next week and will go out to consultation before a decision is taken.
Earlier this year the RAC Foundation revealed the council had raked in £15.3 million from parking charges and fines in 2013-14 – the highest income of any local authority in Scotland.
It is not yet known how much extra cash the council would make under the changes.
Malcolm Duck, chairman of the Edinburgh Restaurateurs Association condemned the recommendations as “crazy”.
He said: “I think it’s an absolute nonsense. I know councils have to raise money, but you have parking wardens making fortunes – when does it stop? Are there no other ways to raise revenue?
“Taking a taxi or a bus just adds to the cost of an evening meal. I think this would have a knock-on effect, especially on restaurants because they are open in the evenings.”
Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said the move would only make it “more difficult and more expensive to come into the city centre”. He said: “They are potentially starting off down a difficult line. Particularly at weekends and in the evening, public transport is not such an attractive option for some people. What they should be doing is looking at how they can supply extra parking spaces.”
In January, church leaders hit out at plans to scrap free Sunday parking, but city chiefs argued change was needed in an age of “seven-day retail”.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “We’ve been evaluating parking in Edinburgh over the last few months, studying the use of city centre parking by residents, shoppers and visitors to see where the most demand for spaces is and to help inform a new Parking Action Plan.
“We are now looking for feedback on these proposals, so I would urge anyone interested to take part.”
Proposals being considered by council chiefs to improve parking in the city centre include extending restrictions into the evening and bringing in charges on Sundays.
At the moment parking restrictions on central streets are only in place from 8.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, and from 8.30am to 5.30pm in other areas. The council says the move is intended to keep spaces free for permit holders.
Elsewhere, the council is looking at making parking spaces shared use, meaning they can be used by both permit holders and pay and display customers. Visitor permits could also be introduced across the entire zone.