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High street retailers’ dismay as shoppers told to pay for parking on Sundays

© Sandy McCook / DCT MediaA parking officer issues a fixed penalty notice in Inverness
A parking officer issues a fixed penalty notice in Inverness

Councils have been criticised for bringing in Sunday parking charges as high street shops try to bounce back following the Covid-19 crisis.

Retail bodies say even a short-term break on charges would have encouraged greater footfall in struggling city centres forced to compete with out-of-town malls with vast free car parks.

The Sunday charges emerge as we reveal Scottish councils received £200 million in parking fines and charges in the past three years.

Charging for on-street parking resumed in Glasgow on Thursday and will include Sunday fees.

Aberdeen City Council said charges, including Sundays, apply across the city, while levies, including Sundays, are to be reintroduced in Dundee from tomorrow.

Pay and display resumed in Edinburgh from June 22 with the city council currently in the midst of a legal process to introduce fees on Sundays.

© Andrew Cawley
Princes Square cleaner Katarzyna Sztubecka working to get the Glasgow shopping centre ready to open its doors tomorrow as malls around Scotland get back in business

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “We believe local authorities should be taking a pause on parking charges for the short term to get people back to the high street. Particularly in this crisis, we need people back shopping. We want people to come to city centres to support businesses and protect jobs.”

Councillor Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council’s convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, said: “Suspending parking charges was the right thing to do at the time. But with restrictions beginning to ease, it is appropriate for us to revisit the decision to suspend charges.”

Meanwhile, figures obtained by The Sunday Post under Freedom of Information show Edinburgh was top of the list of councils for parking income, taking £67m over three years, with Glasgow next on £48m.

Rural councils also earned large sums from drivers, with Highland Council taking in £5.5m and Argyll and Bute’s figure at £3.1m.

While six local authorities – Clackmannanshire, North Ayrshire, Shetland, West Dunbartonshire, Western Isles and West Lothian – had no income from parking over the period, the figures show the other 26 local authorities earned £206m in three years.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Transport Secretary Jamie Greene said: “This exposes just how much of a cash cow drivers are for local authorities. In return, all drivers seem to get are pothole-laden roads, increasing congestion and no tangible improvements to public transport to encourage people out of their cars.”

The AA said: “Councils have harvested hundreds of millions of pounds from parking which should have been reinvested long ago in providing drivers with cleaner and cost-effective alternatives.”

Local authority umbrella group COSLA said: “If you park illegally you are committing an offence and penalties only apply to people who commit an offence.”