THIS summer has seen the worst traffic chaos I have ever witnessed in North Berwick.

At the end of July, the police had to stop traffic on the A198 into town because it was full of cars; there was indiscriminate and illegal parking.

Where on earth were the wardens? Their wages could have been met over the last few weeks through fines.

With double parking, parking on double yellows, on the lifeboat slipway, over residents’ drives – effectively trapping them in their houses – abuse of disabled spaces, and on pavements, and gridlock along the East Beach roads, the town reached its capacity.

Something has to be done. But what?

I have witnessed numerous well-meaning attempts to address the problem. Schemes to increase parking have almost all attracted hostile opposition from residents; to total banning of cars from High Street and pedestrianising it despite traders’ protests, to those who insist the only way forward is to cycle and walk everywhere, with little thought given to accommodate the large number who cannot do so.

What I have seen is not just gridlock on the streets, but gridlock in the process involving local opinion on agreeing a way forward.

The problem is too many cars – not visitors, which we should welcome. We need footfall to survive economically. Our traders rely on summer takings to maintain year-long viability and residents benefit from this by using their services in the quieter months. North Berwick needs something that will keep the cars out but provide excellent access to the town centre.

A potential solution is park and ride (P&R) from the west side of town. P&R is easy to get wrong. You have to entice car drivers to actually stop and every car that does not is a failure in the scheme’s design and pricing.

Costs can be kept down by using school buses in summer for, say, a 15-minute service, and also diverting the three commercial buses an hour through the site, meaning an all-year-round option is there with no capital costs for buses.

Pricing has to be thought through in summer – nobody will use it if you pay fares for P&R with free or unrestricted parking in the town centre. Parking must be strictly policed – if drivers think they can get away with parking illegally, they will do so.

By keeping town centre change to a minimum and taking many cars out by using a P&R facility, the traffic problems should subside to manageable proportions.

Harry Barker

Dirleton Road

North Berwick