Petition launched against beach parking charges
VISITORS to Gullane Bents would have to pay for parking, if the proposals were approved
COUNCILLORS who oppose the introduction of coastal car parking charges in East Lothian have sought assurance that the charges will not be "shoved through" during their summer recess.
It comes as a petition is launched against coastal cr parking charges - which has already attracted hundreds of signatures.
Members of the SNP Group on East Lothian Council raised the issue at a council meeting on Tuesday, pressing the Labour/Conservative/independent administration on its plans for the policy.
As reported in the Courier last week, the local authority plans to introduce the charges at 13 sites across East Lothian which could see visitors charged about £2 per day to park there - raising an estimated £1 million per year.
Councillor Willie Innes (Lab), council leader, wants the charges introduced by later this year or next year - but depute leader Michael Veitch (Con) is personally opposed to the policy, despite his party's support for the issue.
Councillor Paul McLennan, SNP Group leader, claimed on Tuesday that Labour was "all over the place", citing conflicting Labour figures over how much would be charged and raised by coastal car parking charges.
He said that "business after business after business" was showing its objection to the policy, calling for "reassurances that this policy will be brought back to debate [in the council chambers] and won't be shoved through during the summer recess" - which members are now on until August 28.
Mr Innes retorted by saying Mr McLennan had "started the horse running" by raising the matter at a Dunbar Community Council meeting last Monday, and said coastal car parking charges had been "part of the income stream" in both the Labour and Conservative parties' proposed budgets in February.
He added that "council policy will be changed in accordance with council rules and standing orders, I can assure you of that".
Provost Ludovic Broun-Lindsay (Con), chairing the meeting, said: "It has never been my experience in all my many years on councils of various sorts for any administration to use the summer recess arrangements to force through contentious items.
"I would be very surprised if this administration was going to break that."
Mr Innes agreed that it "won't be" pushed through before August 28.
Meanwhile, Dunbar resident and regular surfer Neil Munro has started an online petition "against East Lothian coastal car park charges".
As the then-chair of Belhaven Surf Club, Mr Munro had objected to previous plans to introduce the charges during a public consultation on the issue in 2008, under the previous SNP/Lib Dem administration - which later dropped the proposals.
By Wednesday, he had already gathered nearly 250 signatures on his latest petition in just five days - including from Mr McLennan and his fellow SNP councillor Stuart Currie.
Mr Munro said the move was not politically-motivated.
He added: "I've taken the lead on this before and I'm taking the lead again, but hopefully relying on other people's support.
"Being a surfer, I can use two or three beaches in East Lothian in one day and that would cost me £6 straight away. There are a lot of businesses and it would impact quite heavily on them.
"There have been quite a lot of people from outwith East Lothian who have been signing the petition as tourists.
"It is steadily building at quite a good pace and certainly with some of the comments that are coming from all people of all backgrounds, there seems to be quite a high disapproval of it."
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jun 28, 11:43
While we may not have the pleasure of Councillor Stuart Curries regular photograph in the local press we now have the pleasure of his “wise words of wisdom” in the weekly letters page or if you are fortunate the opportunity to follow him on “twitter”. Personally not myself as he blocked me.
Yet again he seems to have this vision that he speaks for the common person, and not for the first time in his political career is trying to re-invent himself as something we know he is not.
It is clear that the SNP who a few months ago would have been more than happy to go into coalition with the Labour Party are hell bent on using any opportunity to disrupt the progress of the new administration.
They still do not get the fact that they were well beat in May by a more effective campaign by the Labour Party which clearly demonstrated the failings of their administration in East Lothian.
But let us get back to the issue of Cllr Curries letter and comments regarding “Coastal Tax”.
He states that such charges will not generate massive income, I would suggest any income large or small re-invested in our local beaches is better that their attempts for the past five years.
He states that such charges will have an effect on the local economy , I would suggest that tourists to our lovely county would agree that a small parking fee is a small price to pay for a quality facility.
He states that the Labour Party announced this policy without consulting their coalition partners, how does he know and come on Stuart how many times did you are your SNP colleagues make decisions without consulting your coalition partners.
Any way next year we can look forward to a great boost for the local economy with the Open at Muirfield.
Recommend? Yes 4 No 12
Jun 28, 22:39
Robert, your comments are spoken like a true Labourite....strong on accusation, point scoring and vitriol, yet very thin on the substance of the issue.
£2 isn't the issue, nor most certainly are the personalities on either side of the debate.
It's the principal of the charge which is the problem .....
It's really simple .... the relationship between charging, parking and enforcement is set, and always will be. Much like any tax, as soon as you set one, people will attempt to avoid it unless there is rigorous enforcement (which of course costs money), and there comes a point where enforcement costs are more than revenue income.....
If people have a choice to avoid the charge they will......They WILL park elsewhere locally, causing severe congestion and driving away business. It's a simple truth of human nature.
Charging WILL ALWAYS reduce attendance at beach carparks and will dissuade some from visiting entirely, driving away business..... The greater the charge, the greater the motivation to avoid it.
Of course merely setting up a charging structure and administering it costs money .....
This will reduce the predicted revenue, and will only be partially mitigated by enforcing new parking regulations in the areas around the beach carparks .... which will cost even more money to set up and enforce ........
Jaquie Bell commented previously on how this proposal was analysed in depth by the previous administration and rejected for these well thought out reasons.
I'm not surprised that Labour are proposing this defunct policy. They have previous form for ripping up manifestos and ignoring public will in the pursuit of their political dogma of tax and tax again...... Labour are past masters of ill thought out policy which invariably invokes the rule of unintended consequences.
Beach parking charges will be at best revenue neutral, but more importantly will REDUCE visitor numbers, and INCREASE traffic congestion in the localities involved.
Beach parking charges are bad for business and the community. But hey, let's not allow commercial realities get in the way of an administration whose first thought is to tax the electorate, rather than grow the local economy or reduce administrative waste.
Recommend? Yes 10 No 4
Jun 29, 07:52