Council’s car parking strategy in Dalkeith was “short-sighted”, claims councillor

The council’s “short-sighted” parking strategy in Dalkeith must be continually reviewed in order to prevent businesses and prospective homeowners from being driven away.

John Blair, director of corporate resources at Midlothian Council, has warned that unless the strategy - which includes investigating potential for a residents parking permit scheme - is closely monitored, the “business viability” of Dalkeith may be put at risk.

He similarly fears that if residents are required to park several streets from their property, the attraction of and benefit of living close to a town centre may be reduced.

In a report put before the council’s Audit Committee on Tuesday, Mr Blair urged members to note that usage of a council-owned car park at North Wynd, where pay and display charging was introduced in July 2011, had been “lower than anticipated” - to such an extent that income was covering operational costs only.

Just yards from the High Street, the facility is managed by private contractor CP Plus.

Charging was introduced under the council’s former Labour administration, and as the first hour of parking is free, it was anticipated that the move would significantly boost local trade.

But recent statistics indicate that car park usage has been, on average, around 50 per cent.

Mr Blair fears that, unless the council offers financial support to CP Plus, the contractor might withdraw from the contract. Read full story in the March 14 edition of the Midlothian Advertiser.