COUNCILLORS failed to agree on the standardisation of pay and display car parks in the Borders at a meeting earlier this week.
Members of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee met on Tuesday (May 18) to discuss recommendations to standardise the costs and tariff bands of pay and display car parks across the region.
However, the report also suggested allowing flexibility for towns over prices and times to “suit their particular needs” – which sparked a disagreement at the meeting.
Gordon Edgar, an independent representative for Selkirkshire, said he was “disappointed in some of the recommendations” in the report.
“The idea was to standardise parking charges and other items regarding parking,” said Mr Edgar, the council’s executive member for infrastructure, travel and transport.
“The first recommendation is to standardise daily rates and the next one is to retain flexibility. That sort of contradicts the standardisation at the beginning.
“I’m sorry – no – we either standardise or we forget it,” he added. “People are prepared to pay for parking and if we want to manage the parking facilities we have to make a stand and say, ‘This is the way you have to park’.
“We don’t want various figures to be banded about like, ‘Oh, you only pay this much in Hawick’.
“Standardise the rate, standardise the hours, standardise the days and we’ll have a scheme that’ll suit everyone.”
‘An absolute bargain’
Mid Berwickshire representative Mark Rowley, of the Conservatives, said he was “surprised” at the reaction of councillors opposing the flexibility.
“It may seem a little bit odd in a paper for standardisation that there’s flexibility in there but I don’t see that as a weakness,” said Mr Rowley, the executive member for finance.
“There’s a significant amount of standardisation so people understand when they come into a Borders town they will be expected to pay.”
The report recommends standardising the daily operational period of pay and display car parks to between 8.30am-5pm.
It also recommends that tariff bands in these car parks should range from “up to two hours” to “over six hours”.
The indicative costs for the tariff bands would be 50p for up to two hours, £1.50 for between two to four hours, £3 for between four and six hours, and £5 for over six hours.
Mr Rowley said: “What struck me is these charges are incredibly modest even though in many instances they are an increase.
“If anyone has been to Edinburgh recently you will understand that these are an absolute bargain.”
Peebles is one of five towns in the region which operates pay and display.
On the town’s Edinburgh Road, the charges are currently only applicable on Saturdays between 8.30am-5.30pm.
For up to two hours of parking it costs 20p, while more than eight hours costs £2.80.
Meanwhile, at Peebles’ Greenside and swimming pool car parks, charges are applicable from Monday until Saturday between 8.30am-5.30pm.
Up to four hours of parking will set you back 20p, with more than eight hours again costing £2.80.
According to the report put to councillors, there would be flexibility for towns to change the costs if the recommendations were approved.
There would also be room to manoeuvre for certain car parks to operate outside of the operating days of Monday to Saturday.
The council’s chief financial officer, David Robertson, said: “It [the report] recognises that we have some unique circumstances in some towns – the abbey car park in Melrose [is] possibly the best one.
“The income there is shared with Historic Scotland so to not charge for that car park at the weekend during peak tourist season would be significantly detrimental to the town. That is not a circumstance we have in other areas.”
The council’s infrastructure manager, Brian Young, said he believed it would take a minimum of six months to implement the changes to pay and display car parks.
Councillors at the meeting agreed to defer a decision on the standardisation of pay and display parking until the next executive committee meeting.