Edinburgh parking: tougher rules to crack down on persistent offenders

Parking wardens get greater powers to issue tickets and tow vehicles

Edinburgh motorists have been warned of major changes to the city’s parking rules that will hand wardens greater powers to issue tickets and tow vehicles.

The council announced it was tightening-up enforcement in a bid to crack down on nuisance parking by "persistent offenders”. Transport convener Scott Arthur said better managing parking would also help to address congestion issues and “get people to think about how they can take journeys differently”.

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He added it would allow the authority to take a “zero tolerence” approach to pavement parking which plagues many footpaths and cycleways across the Capital. Pavement parking, unless on a yellow line, is not currently illegal in Scotland unless an officer witnesses someone driving on the pavement. However, Holyrood is set to introduce a nationwide ban by December 2023.

Traffic wardens will no longer wait for five minutes before issuing a ticket when motorists park on the pavement next to a yellow line. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

Until then, the council has set out plans to use the full extent of its powers to clamp down on those who mount the kerb or leave their vehicle parked illegally. Included in the council’s latest parking policy review are several key changes that will significantly lower the bar for when action can be taken by wardens.

Currently, a driver’s vehicle will be towed if they receive 15 tickets in the space of three months. Under the new policy, the threshold will be lowered to five tickets. The number of unpaid tickets a motorist can have to their name before being towed will also be reduced from five to three.

Furthermore, the five-minute “observation period” – the length of time a parking officer legally has to wait by a vehicle before issuing a ticket – will be lifted altogether in cases of pavement parking where there are yellow lines. The council said this would tackle drivers who “keep an active watch on their vehicle so that they can move it quickly should a parking attendant attempt to issue a parking ticket”. It added this often results in a “frustrating game of ‘cat and mouse’, whereby the parking attendants are continually returning to the same location to move on the same vehicle time and time again”.

Officials estimate the new rules, which will go to the transport committee for approval next week, will generate an extra £100,000 a year in parking income – enough for the council to employ three new parking enforcement officers. A report said: “These policies aim to improve compliance with the regulations, encourage payment of outstanding tickets and offer an additional enforcement route to address motorists who consistently park incorrectly.”

It added: “Inconsiderate parking in bus lanes, greenways and on active travel corridors is inappropriate and understandably frustrating for road users. The parking team will continue to work closely with colleagues in public transport and active travel to ensure that kerbside restrictions are applied appropriately to these transport corridors so that the transport hierarchy is positively promoted in Edinburgh.”

Cllr Arthur said: “We need to manage parking better in the city. If we manage parking, including illegal parking, we can start to deal with some of the congestion problems we’ve got and also get people to think about how they can take journeys differently. It’s just about starting to make people see that we have to address some of the parking stuff that’s going on in the city.”