Council acts to confront parking issue

East Lothian Council wants to run a parking warden service
East Lothian Council wants to run a parking warden service

The arrival of the “blue meanies”, Edinburgh’s traffic wardens, has moved closer as councillors look to tackle the county’s parking problem.

Last week Midlothian councillors agreed that a feasibility study be carried out into possible solutions.

Councillors have agreed to explore how best to introduce a “decriminalised” parking scheme. This is when parking regulations are carried out by civil enforcement officers on behalf of a council or private company.

Midlothian needs to take action as its arrangement with Police Scotland to part meet the cost of a local traffic warden comes to an end at the end of March 2016.

In his report to the full council,head of commercial operations Ricky Moffat said: “If there is no parking controls across Midlothian there is a risk that road safety issues could endanger life and that congestion and lack of appropriate parking places could affect the economic viability of Midlothian town centres.”

One option being considered by the council is to “piggyback” onto the City of Edinburgh Council’s contract with NSL, a private firm which has been providing parking wardens in the capital since 2006.

Mr Moffat added that preliminary discussions had been held with Edinburgh, which was “positive” to working in partnership with Midlothian.

A number of stages must be gone through before a decriminalised scheme can be introduced. These could take up to 18 months.

As well as a feasilibity study, a business case would need to be established. An audit of traffic regulations is also required and changes would need to be made to on-street signs and markings

Transport spokesman Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP) said: “We certainly need to do something as parking is becoming an issue.

“Working in partnership with Edinburgh might be the most efficient and cost effective option.”