Shoppers to pay for Sunday parking in Edinburgh city centre from April
Business chief have blasted plans to reintroduce Sunday parking charges in Edinburgh city centre as many firms are battling to survive the impact of Covid-19.
The extension of pay-and-display charges to Sunday afternoons 12:30pm – 6:30pm will come into force in April, the Edinburgh City Council has confirmed.
Charges are being brought in as part of a raft of measures under the council’s Parking Action Plan, geared towards Edinburgh becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
But businesses have warned it could drive custom away from the city centre as shops open their doors for the first time in months as restrictions are lifted.
The council started works in November to prepare for the introduction of the charges. Changes to signs and parking bay markings have been completed in zones one to three to prepare for the move.
The parking action plan was approved by Transport and Environment Committee in 2016. In a public consultation, 91 per cent of respondents opposed Sunday charges.
But Garry Clark, Development Manager for Federation of Small Businesses in East Scotland said: "It’s extremely disappointing to see these charges coming in.
"Many businesses including retail and hospitality have been closed for an extended period. Most have not traded at all and for those that have it’s been limited.
"In the city centre there’s been an absence of office workers, no festival boost, Christmas or New Year boost or tourists. Businesses need all the breaks they can get right now. They are desperate to trade. We’ve seen public discouraged from using public transport so that’s not always an option for attracting people to the city centre to shops. “
He added: "We’d like to see a more flexible approach from the council. One council has recently agreed to extend free parking into the reopening period. I understand the pressures councils face but they are not facing hardship on the same scale as businesses that have been hammered by covid.
"We need to do all we can to help them get back up and running. Extended free parking on Sundays could help give businesses in the centre a leg up when they need it most.”
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “We previously publicised the fact that these changes would be coming into place in spring, and our parking team have been working for the last few months getting more than 1000 signs and road markings in place before then.
“Our Parking Action Plan, which includes introducing Sunday parking controls, was approved by committee some time ago, and recognises people’s changing travel habits. Under normal circumstances, Sunday has become like any other day of the week for many people, in terms of shopping, socialising and visiting the city. As lockdown restrictions are lifted we hope to see people heading back to the city, and these Sunday afternoon controls, which will operate in the city centre, will help ensure parking turnover while keeping our roads safe and obstruction-free.
“These changes are also part of our ambitions for a greener, healthier more sustainable transport future, where air quality is good and we have achieved our net zero carbon goals. It’s essential that we address parking and car use if we are to realise this, helping to create a better, safer place to live.”