Galashiels loses out on pay-parking cash

GALASHIELS has been deprived of thousands of pounds due to a missing pay-parking machine, writes Kenny Paterson.

The Stirling Place meter generated nearly £20,000 in the 17 months before it was disconnected on August 26 last year when its car park closed as part of the Galashiels Inner Relief Road (GIRR) project.

The 14-bay zone remained closed for almost 12 months, but finally reopened to vehicles on July 17 as part of the official launch of the £12million infrastructure scheme.

However, the ticket mechanism has not been replaced, allowing drivers to use it free of charge for the past four months.

The machine’s absence has angered former Scottish Borders Council (SBC) leader Drew Tulley, with the cash raised from pay parking given to local councillors to invest in town improvements.

Mr Tulley said: “Money from pay-parking machines is put back into the community.

“Who will compensate the town of Galashiels for this loss of revenue?

“It is costing the town £300 or £400 per week.”

Galashiels councillor Bill White told the town’s community council: “I believe SBC were paying next to nothing for the electricity for the machine.

“But after the works the electricity board said ‘We have had enough of this’ and started to charge. It means the council will likely have to put its own power system in for the machine.

“But it has been a loss of revenue for three or four months now.”

An SBC statement said: “The council has been exploring the best way of reconnecting the parking meter to a power supply and it is anticipated that the works will be undertaken soon.

“Income received in 2010/11 was £13,514 and, in 2011/12 when the car park closed at the end of August, the figure was £6,305.

“A number of different arrangements exist in the energy supply of pay-parking facilities across the Scottish Borders, either through direct or in direct supply by ScottishPower.”

The Stirling Place facility shut last year as work began on creating a new roundabout at the junction with Ladhope Vale.

Last December, Mr White, in his previous position as Galashiels CC chairman, called for the car park to be temporarily opened for the two weekends in the run-up to Christmas to boost trade.

But GIRR programme manager Ewan Doyle told TheSouthern at the time that it was not possible because there were too many potential trip hazards on the site and “the new parking arrangement isn’t marked out and the parking meter has been removed”.