The introduction of coastal car parking charges next month in East Lothian has been both welcomed and criticised by individuals and groups.

I believe the re-introduction of such charges is necessary and will lead to improved facilities for all visitors to our popular beaches.

Council tax has been frozen for eight years in a row and continued financial restraint from Westminster and Holyrood Governments mean that local authorities have to implement a range of options to protect essential services.

I noted in last week’s opinion piece, reporter Marie Sharp believed “residents have been allowed free access to their coast for eternity”.

In general terms this is true and will continue. Residents and visitors alike will have free access to the coastline and beaches.

However, if they choose to drive to the beaches and park their cars then they will have to pay for this. The funds raised through car parking charges will be ring-fenced to be used for improvements to the coastal car parks and facilities including toilets and showers.

Many regular visitors to East Lothian beaches will remember only a few years ago attendants in huts collecting car parking fees. The fees didn’t detract car-using visitors and in fact ‘car park full’ signs were often displayed during spells of good weather.

East Lothian Council has considered the needs and requirements of visitors, and Blue Badge holders will enjoy free parking. As with many things in life, people will have to make choices. Local dog walkers, joggers and others will benefit from free parking before 8am and so can continue to enjoy their morning routines.

As the car parking charges won’t apply after 6.30pm during the summer months, families will be able to choose to make use of our beautiful coastline in an evening without parking costs.

If you decide to visit every day, whatever the weather, then an annual ticket is only £40 or less than £1 a week. Where else can you choose to park your car for only 10p a day?

Councillor Norman Hampshire Cabinet spokesperson for Environment