EAST Lothian Council has been urged to think again ahead of the latest plans for a car park on the outskirts of Haddington being shown to the public.

Discussions will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Haddington Town House as proposed changes to parking throughout the town are examined.

Potential changes include turning the long-stay car park near the town’s Tesco store into a short-stay car park, while spaces at East Lothian Council’s John Muir House headquarters could also be made available for public use throughout the week.

At the heart of the proposals is the proposed creation of a ‘transport hub’ on land at Whittingehame Drive, near the town’s skate park.

Proposals were revealed last year which showed a potential 240-space car park, as well as options for ‘park and ride’, ‘park and stride’, electric vehicle fast chargers, cycle parking and cycle hire.

Joanna Gibson, chairwoman of Haddington Business Community Partnership (HBCP), felt that there was a need for a car park but questioned whether Whittingehame Drive was the correct site.

She said: “Most of the people working in Haddington come in from the west side and that is of course where all the new houses have been built.

“Why, then, does the council think it makes sense for all these cars to come through the town and park over at the eastern edge of town?

“How is that improving carbon emissions?

“Free up most of the spaces at John Muir House to the public and the long-stay car park in Tesco and you could potentially free up 200 car parking spaces for public use in the town centre.

“Don’t add more car parking spaces at Whittingehame Drive when they aren’t needed, it will become a ghost car park.”

More than 500 people attended the first public exhibition in Haddington Town House shortly before Christmas.

At that time, various information boards were on display to highlight how East Lothian Council had come to the conclusion that Whittingehame Drive was the best possible site for a new car park.

Mrs Gibson was among those at the event and was calling on members of the public to again attend next week’s drop-in events, which take place between 2pm and 7.30pm.

She said: “We speak to a lot of people every day about what is being proposed.

“The strength of feeling has been unwavering since December, possibly even stronger now.

“The general consensus is that no one wants a car park at Whittingehame Drive. People who work in the town that I have spoken to have told me they won’t use it, its’s too far away and they will just park in the streets nearby.

“I think that a car park is needed somewhere but it has to be the right place.”

Previously, Tom Reid, head of infrastructure at East Lothian Council, told the Courier that the local authority had been working for many years to enhance the town for all involved.

He said: “As well as improved options for active travel and public transport, we recognise that there is a need to create more parking spaces in and around the town centre.

“For this to happen, we need to change some existing parking from long stay to short stay, and deliver a new long-stay parking option for drivers who need to leave their vehicle in the town throughout the working day.

“One proposal is the potential re-designation of the existing ‘Tesco long-stay’ car park, which could free up an additional 225 spaces in the town centre for short-stay, public parking.

“We will also review the status of the car park at John Muir House, East Lothian Council’s head office, to consider the potential for an area here to be available for wider public use.”

Jan Wilson, chairwoman of Haddington and District Community Council, encouraged people to head along to the two-day drop-in session.

She told the Courier: “It is an important issue that is going to affect our town centre for the rest of its life.

“The decision they decide to make will be a big decision.”