A TRANSPORT survey which showed a lack of public support for introducing parking charges in town centres has been described as having a “slight bias” in favour of car owners.

Hundreds of people took part in a public consultation of East Lothian Council’s Local Transport Strategy, which includes proposals to allow the local authority to introduce town centre charges as part of a new parking management policy.

However, a report on the public response has claimed that the result is skewed because it includes more car owners than the general public.

Summing up the results for councillors, officials state that 93 per cent of those who took part owned one or more vehicles while just over 80 per cent of residents in the county are in the same situation.

And it warns that the Dunbar and East Linton ward is “over-represented” in the responses “possibly as a result of the active campaign against possible car parking charges that was run in Dunbar”.

The report said: “The over-representation of car owners and of respondents supporting the Dunbar campaign suggests that survey response has a sight bias in favour of proposals that benefit car owners.”

The council held seven public workshops around the county to discuss its proposed strategy, with just over 100 people attending. In Dunbar, 26 people attended the workshop, while the Prestonpans event saw no residents take part.

An online survey brought 500 responses, of which 176 were from Dunbar and East Linton ward residents.

In a report to go before council on Tuesday, it is revealed that when asked specifically about proposals which would allow parking charges to be introduced in town centres and car parks, only 13 per cent of the respondents strongly agreed while a further 27 per cent ‘tended to agree’.

Fifteen per cent of respondents ‘tended to disagree’, with 45 per cent strongly disagreeing with the proposal.

The report said that, while there were lower levels of support for car parking charges, it varied from town to town.

It said: “The high level of response and higher than average negative view about the option of introducing car parking charges is likely to have been influenced, at least in part, by the campaign being run in Dunbar by the Dunbar Trades’ Association.

“A petition to stop High Street parking charges as this might deter shoppers from visiting the High Street with over 1,900 signatures has been submitted to the council.”