PLANS to introduce parking charges in North Berwick are being sent back to the drawing board after sparking hundreds of objections.

The proposals for the town were the first to be put out to public consultation under a Traffic Regulation Order by East Lothian Council.

However, a report to councillors next week will ask for permission to withdraw the order and start again, after officers attributed the high number of objections on a "misinterpretation of the key themes" by the public.

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It says that the council received 659 responses to the traffic order, which would allow the introduction of parking restrictions, permit zones and on-street and off-street charges.

The report said: “A sample of 140 pieces of written correspondence produced 443 individual points of objection and concern covering 73 different themes.”

The themes ranged from the impact on High Street to one in 10 objectors claiming that there were no parking problems, as well as concerns it would encourage motorhome parking.

Officers highlighted the amount of documents made available as part of the order as causing a problem, saying: “The order, as published, included 43 supporting documents.

"The volume of information was large and technically challenging, which drew negative feedback from the public, with some expressing the view that the information was incomprehensible.”

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And they added: “In most cases, representations were based on personal perspective of how the proposals will impact the individual objector and did not challenge the proposals against the current parking strategy or the manner in which the order was presented or progressed.”

Officers are asking the council to approve the withdrawal of the order and instruct them to draw up a new one.

They say that the experience from North Berwick will help speed up planned orders for other towns in the county, which could be introduced over the next two years.

They say: “Withdrawing the current order and working to redesign alternative orders would allow officers to incorporate additional restrictions sought by objectors; to simplify the restrictions and the content, with a distinction drawn between on and off-street parking; and to address motorhome parking provision.

“The benefit of publishing new orders allows us to introduce reasonable modifications but also design a template from the lessons learnt after the North Berwick consultation and objection process.

“This can then be used to accelerate delivery of town centre parking schemes across East Lothian.

"It is anticipated the process can be reduced to 27 months to finalise all necessary orders, subject to anticipated public hearing process.”

Councillors will be asked to allow officers to withdraw the original order at a meeting next week.