EAST Lothian is lucky to have a number of successful high streets and independent county-based businesses.

This is not the case in every part of Scotland. But I am concerned that our high streets are now at risk.

Family-run businesses are the lifeblood of our towns and villages and it’s not surprising that places like North Berwick and East Linton are regularly ranked as being among the best places to live in the UK.

But if we want our county to continue to thrive, we must put the concerns of local high street businesses first.

And this means challenging East Lothian Council’s reluctance to make cost-efficiency measures rather than impose parking charges.

East Lothian Courier: Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSPCraig Hoy, South Scotland MSP

The planned introduction of town centre parking charges – which will start in North Berwick – threaten independent businesses during a cost-of-living crisis.

Retailers are struggling to meet rising costs and this latest move could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Councillors from Labour, the SNP and the Greens have pursued these measures whilst ignoring the clear concerns of a large number of residents and businesses.

Councillor Lee-Anne Menzies of the SNP has on the one hand said she “can’t wait” for town centre parking charges to come to Tranent.

But, perversely, she said: “We are seeing too many big developers trying to build homes in Tranent and we are now seeing businesses leaving too”.

READ MORE: Tranent: Town will become ‘satellite of Edinburgh’ as businesses leave

She seems to have forgotten completely that it is her party’s policy in government that is allowing big developers to run roughshod over East Lothian communities. It is time for councillors to put party politics to one side and recognise the significant challenges faced by our high street businesses.

They should stand with local Conservative politicians in opposing charges and supporting our high streets.