Roads spending falls as parking charges rise

Parking is on the rise but roads spending is falling. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Parking is on the rise but roads spending is falling. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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MOTORISTS are forking out more to leave their cars on the Capital’s streets, boosting the city’s parking income – but new figures show spending on roads is falling.

According to statistics obtained by Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson under freedom of information laws, higher “pay and display” parking charges have led to an increase in surpluses – up £3.5 million since 2015/16.

But at the same time, spending on road improvements and public transport has fallen by £2.7m.

And Mr Johnson said the council had also admitted no assessment had been carried out on the impact of higher parking charges on small businesses in areas like Morningside and Bruntsfield.

The council is legally required to spend surplus income from the parking charges on either “public passenger transport services” or “highway or road improvement”.

While the surplus from pay-and-display charges rose from £16.7m in 2015/16 to £20.2m in 2017/18, combined spending on roads and public transport fell from £29.3m to £26.7m in the same period.

Mr Johnson said: “Everyone accepts the council needs to charge for parking in busy areas. I would expect any extra money raised from pay and display charges to be invested back into roads, pavements and transport infrastructure.

“However, over the same time that charges have risen, and council profits have soared, the amount spent on road and transport priorities has fallen.”

He said official government road surveys showed Edinburgh’s roads and pavements were just as bad as they were in 2013, with the condition of six roads still flagged as red and 28 as amber.

And he hit out at the council’s failure to look at the effect of rising charges on small businesses.

“Local businesses are rightly concerned that rising pay and display charges are affecting their footfall and hurting the local businesses that keep the area alive. It is disappointing the council has not made any assessment of the impact these rises will have on businesses.

“At the very least, I would expect the cost would bring real improvements to the area. However, this research shows drivers are ultimately paying higher charges, while not seeing any improvement reflected on roads or pavements.”

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said she shared residents’ desire to improve the city’s roads, pavements and transport infrastructure.

She said: “It’s misleading to imply that we are not investing all surplus income into road and footway improvements and public transport. In fact, these figures show we annually spend far in excess of the surplus from pay and display.”

And she described Mr Johnson’s comments as “slightly odd”, given the SNP-Labour coalition running the city. She said: “Scottish Labour are criticising the work of a council where they form part of the administration. As transport convener I am working closely with Labour colleagues and I wonder why Daniel Johnson isn’t doing the same.”