Illegal parking along Hawick High Street is driving away much-needed custom, according to traders in the hard-hit street.
A petition has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council’s petitions and deputations committee calling for action to stop motorists flouting on-street parking regulations in the town centre.
Traders believe the problem stems from the withdrawal of traffic wardens several years ago.
After receiving the petition, the committee took immediate action by sending letters to Hawick residents and businesses, reminding them of parking regulations and encouraging people to park their cars off the main street.
Meanwhile, a council working group is preparing to present more long-term solutions to on-street parking problems next month.
That can’t happen soon enough for fed-up traders such as butcher James Pringle, of Robert Pringle.
He said: “It’s having a big effect on business. It has been murdering our business over the last year.
“You have vans and cars parking for up to three days at a time, and there is no way customers can get in.
“People are using it like a car park, and the one-way system heads traffic in the direction of four out-of-town supermarkets, rather than the town centre.”
Another frustrated trader is Jackie Blackie, manager of the street’s British Heart Foundation shop.
She said: “People come to drop off donations, and they can’t get parked and they go elsewhere or drop the bags off in a skip. There is a back-door entrance, but people don’t know that.
“You have workers in the town hall who park up all day because it’s so convenient and there’s no deterrent.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Ron Smith has long called for a decriminalised parking enforcement set-up.
That would involve wardens employed by the council touring the Borders issuing tickets.
However, an earlier bid by the working group to introduce such a scheme was rejected because of concerns about its cost.
Mr Smith said: “The chairman of the working group, Gordon Edgar, has just asked for an update on progress of the thinking on this scheme.
“It would be fair to say that the council’s chief financial officer is also not keen on this scheme because of the set-up costs.
“I believe that this is an appropriate way to go, allowing local communities some control of town centre parking.
“I believe that the council should indeed bear the setting-up costs.
“In the meantime, police are responsible for booking double-yellow line parkers and others who park indiscriminately in a dangerous location.”
The recent petition was presented by the Future Hawick group, chaired by Derick Tait, and he said: “Since the removal of traffic wardens from Hawick, there has been a marked increase in the abuse of parking regulations in the High Street.
“While acknowledging there should be no abuse whatsoever, human nature is such that there will always be those who try to escape the law.
“There have been recent instances of congested parking on single and double-yellow lines, all-day parking by residents and visitors, overlong loading and unloading procedures, parking in designated loading bays and bus stops and double parking preventing through traffic.
“The situation has reached the stage where action is required.”
Kelso councillor Alec Nicol, chairman of the petitions and deputations committee, said: “The committee listened carefully to the points raised by the deputation from Hawick and agreed that, while a report regarding on-street parking will come before the full council next month, there are some things that could be done immediately which may alleviate some of the issues in the short term.”