HAWICK MSP John Lamont is calling for a more flexible approach to parking charges in retail areas in a bid to attract more shoppers onto the region’s high streets.
A freedom of information request to Scottish Borders Council has revealed that nearly 10,000 parking charges have been paid in the region over the past six years, taking in a total income of £74,487.
With many high street retailers in the Borders struggling in recent years, and high street footfall decreasing, Mr Lamont is urging the local authority to make it “as easy as possible” to access local shopping thoroughfares.
“It has been very tough for many high street retailers in the Borders over recent years, and more and more empty shops are starting to appear in of our towns and villages,” he said. “Not only are many of them having to deal with paying high business rates, most high streets have also seen a severe drop in footfall in recent years.
“These business are vital to our economy and provide jobs locally that help sustain families. We cannot afford to see any more of them shut down and the onus is on the local authority to do everything they can to help them.
“These statistics show that each year thousands of motorists are forced to pay for their parking in Borders town centres, with many more forced to pay fines should they go over their time limit. While this brings in a modest income, it is doing far more damage in putting people off visiting their local shops.”
Mr Lamont added: “We need to make it as easy as possible for people to access their high street and to spend money on local goods. By taking money off them in these car parks we are only making it harder for them.
“By reducing or abolishing the charges at these car parks we could see footfall levels return to the level they once were, and I would urge the council to look into taking action.”