IT’S BEEN a parking free-for-all for the last 18 months – but now residents across Midlothian are being warned the party’s over as traffic wardens get set to flood the streets once more.
Edinburgh’s notorious “blue meanie” wardens could be rolled out across the region if council proposals get the go-ahead, with local authority chiefs vowing to take “drastic” action as they clamp down on drivers.
It’s pretty free and easy – there are yellow lines but no one seems to bother with themRobert Neilson
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.
A council spokeswoman said a feasibility study would now be carried out to nail down costs and decide how many wardens would be needed, with town centres expected to be targeted in the drive.
But with plans not expected to go before councillors until August, the new system could take up to two years to bring into force.
Dalkeith councillor Margot Russell said action had to be taken to resolve the issue “once and for all”. She said: “We have to do something drastic because parking has been such a huge issue, especially in Dalkeith, and if that means Blue Meanies then so be it.”
Midlothian’s parking woes began early last year when Police Scotland withdrew wardens, leaving the county with a single person to cover the area. Town centres soon became a free-for-all, with drivers parking at bus stops and on double yellow lines, safe in the knowledge no-one would stop them.
At a meeting, Councillor Alex Bennett, who represents Dalkeith, said: “People are parking wherever they like and no action is being taken against them. The problem is not the parking facilities in Dalkeith – it is that no traffic wardens are available. There is supposed to be one for the whole of Midlothian but I have never seen one.”
Penicuik Councillor Derek Rosie added: “People are parking on the High Street all day. If we were to blitz the town once a fortnight word would get round and people would stop doing it. The current situation is similar to Dalkeith, where cars are parking at bus stops with buses queued up at the back.”
But local businesses argue that any attempt to bring in stricter rules could affect trade.
Robert Neilson, manager at B N C Autoparts in Penicuik, said: “I haven’t seen a parking warden in Penicuik for a year and a half. It’s pretty free and easy. There’s yellow lines, but no-one seems to bother with them.
“If there are restrictions it would probably affect the trade. It’s not something I think we really need in Penicuik.”
And a Dalkeith trader, who asked not to be named, said locals would be “unhappy” at the change. “It could affect our customers – right now it’s hard to park, but if you have to pay it might make it even harder.”