Midlothian Council hoping to take on parking powers

Edinburgh City Council has been operating dicriminalised parking enforcement since 1998
Edinburgh City Council has been operating dicriminalised parking enforcement since 1998
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Midlothian Council is set to be awarded parking powers following the withdrawal of police enforcement in the county to prevent drivers “taking liberties when parking their vehicles”.

Decriminalised parking, which makes parking offences a civil matter rather than a criminal one, will see the introduction of parking attendants to manage parking restrictions.

It is hoped the move will improve congestion through parking constraints and enforcement such as on yellow lines, bus stops and disabled bays with the problem escalating since Police Scotland made traffic warden cutbacks in 2014.

Midlothian Council’s application for decriminalised parking powers remains with the Scottish Government but it is anticipated that these will be granted within the next few weeks. If successful, the county will fall in line with Edinburgh City Council, which has been operating decriminalised parking enforcement since 1998, while East Lothian has a similar scheme in place.

Midlothian South SNP councillor Catherine Johnstone told the Evening News that parking complaints had been reported to a number of councillors.

She said: “Hopefully the government will approve this because it is needed in Midlothian. People have been taking liberties on our roads.

“We need to make sure our town centres are accessible to everyone. Disabled people and parents with young children especially. People need to be respectful to others.

“There has been many complaints made last term to councillors about how difficult it is to park in the town centres. I believe this is the right way we go about it to make our towns a more attractive location to come shopping and to visitors.”

The schedule would see traffic attendants going out on the streets from March 26 and distributing flyers and dummy penalty notices on illegally parked vehicles.

These will then be upgraded to penalty charge notices from April 9.

Midlothian Council will retain the income from penalty charges from on and off street parking to finance the operation. The initiative has earned cross party support with a working group set up to investigate parking access across the county.

Midlothian East Labour councillor John Hackett said: “As Midlothian is the fastest growing county in the country, we need to look at the parking problems.

“We have pressures on the town centres and I see people parking in places such as bus stops. There’s a lack of response at Police Scotland with no one policing the parking issues we face.

“We need a balance of people using the public parking spaces that are available and enforcement in the way of penalties to ensure drivers are parking their vehicles safely.”

For more information go to midlothian.gov.uk/parking