TOWN-CENTRE parking tickets are being issued for a private car park owned by the Caprice Restaurant in Musselburgh after its customers couldn’t get a space.

Manager Anthony Alongi, whose family started the popular eatery 50 years ago next year, said the car park behind the High Street restaurant was increasingly being used by people to go to the shops or neighbouring businesses.

He told the Courier: “We bought it for our customers around six years ago as there was nowhere to park. It was a good opportunity. In the last two years it got really bad and people were abusing the car park. There were no spaces for customers at points. People were also fly tipping rubbish everywhere. We used to close the gates at 2.30pm but people used to jump over the gates to open it.”

He added: “I want everyone to use it but obviously respect it, and to customers, including in the takeaway, it’s free. We are still in a honeymoon period and it is still taking some time for people to get used to it.”

They took the decision to introduce the new arrangement recently after being approached by a parking enforcement company which is now running the car park.

Although still free to customers who can register for an electronic permit in the restaurant, members of the public not using the Caprice have to pay £2 for an hour, £3.50 for two hours or £5 for all-day parking, with the cash used to maintain the 33-space car park.

The charging regime runs from 7.30am to 5pm and motorists have to provide their full registration number when paying.

Notices at the car park from Liverpool-based Civic Enforcement Ltd state that payment must be made within 10 minutes of arrival and motorists must not overstay the parking time. If the conditions are breached, motorists will be charged £100. Additional costs and recovery charges will be incurred if payment is not received within 28 days.

Enforcement will be carried out to monitor compliance of these terms and conditions using automatic number plate recognition cameras and manual patrols. The company might contact DVLA to request registered keeper’s details in order to send a parking charge notice.

Musselburgh resident Alexandra MacDonald, who was going for a light snack to nearby Cakes & Shakes in Dalrymple Loan with friend Doreen Gielt, said she didn’t mind paying for the car park after finding out it was owned by the Caprice.

She said: “I did mind paying the first time – I was a bit miffed. But then I realised they (the Caprice) have the car park and you have to be fair, haven’t you? I don’t mind paying now. If this is this man’s space, he could sell it for a building plot but he’s not. I do feel it could be better priced but it’s your choice if you park there and it is safe getting out your car.”

Doreen, from Rosewell in Midlothian, added: “A lot of car parks give the first hour free and I think £2 is quite expensive for one hour. Some people just want an hour-and-a-half which would be perfect for us.”