DISABLED campaigners fear the impending removal of traffic wardens will spell chaos for legitimate blue badge holders.
From Monday, Police Scotland will stop funding wardens as part of a £4.2 million cuts package.
And today there were warnings disabled people across the Lothians could be left stranded – as parking places are taken by other motorists – and businesses left to suffer with customers unable to find spaces.
Lesley Aitkenhead, manager of the East Lothian Community Care Forum, said it is “a major blow” no-one will be able to monitor disabled parking.
She said: “People abuse disabled parking spots a lot. It’s hard enough at the moment for disabled people to be sure of somewhere to park – and it’s absolutely crucial they have access to these reserved spaces.”
Council chiefs in East Lothian, West Lothian and Midlothian have warned that without going through a lengthy process to have special legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament, they have no power to take over the role of parking enforcement.
Once wardens are scrapped in these areas, motorists will effectively be able to ignore time limits on parking.
Councils have appealed for the withdrawal of the wardens to be postponed, but there is little likelihood of police chiefs agreeing to a delay.
In the longer term, councils may well seek to take on the traffic warden function, but they say the necessary legislation could take two years and any such a move will involve major extra costs.
West Lothian Council said it was looking at options on parking management.
But a spokesman said: “In terms of the service being removed from Monday, the council has no powers to enforce parking restrictions.”
East Lothian and Midlothian said they were still in discussions with Police Scotland.
East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray said: “If motorists start parking all day with no-one to stop them, not only will frustrated residents be unable to stop, but local businesses will suffer as would-be customers give up and go elsewhere.
“No doubt the council will have to pick up the tab, and employ their own wardens. However, this needs legislation which might take years and the salaries for those wardens will mean cuts elsewhere.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said dangerous and obstructive parking will still be tackled by officers.
He added there would be “days of action” to tackle bad driver behaviour.
The cost-cutting measures do not apply to Edinburgh, as traffic enforcement is already under council – not police – control.