Working group revived in bid to tackle Borders’ parking problems

Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson.
Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson.

Council chiefs are to revive a working group in a bid to solve the region’s parking problems.

However, Scottish Borders Council has stopped short of agreeing “to establish a cost-effective enforcement solution to act as a deterrent in towns blighted by anti-social on-street parking”.

That was the wording of a motion submitted to last week’s full council meeting by Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson on behalf of the authority’s Scottish national Party opposition group.

He wanted the commitment enshrined in Connected Borders 2017-22, the five-year vision document published by the new Conservative-independent administration at Newtown.

However, that call was rejected by 16 votes to 12, despite garnering support from two independents on the ruling coalition, fellow Galashiels councillor Harry Scott and Tweeddale East’s Robin Tatler.

Instead, council leader Shona Haslam, also a Tweeddale East councillor, announced that a working group of councillors and officers, set up in the summer of 2014 when traffic wardens were withdrawn from the region but no longer active, would be re-established “within the next three months”.

Mr Anderson claimed lack of enforcement had led to disregard for parking restrictions in Borders towns.

“This has led to an unwelcome proliferation of inconsiderate and illegal parking, where loading areas become clogged with long-term parked cars and waiting limits are ignored, resulting potentially in lost business for local traders,” said Mr Anderson.

“I believe a cost-effective enforcement solution would aid the regeneration of our towns.”

The council’s original working group was wound up in November last year after councillors voted 19-11 to reject its recommendation for the creation of a council-run decriminalised parking enforcement scheme.

Concluding that such a scheme, costing £220,000 to implement and £20,000 a year to run, was unrealistic, the council agreed that enforcement should be left to Police Scotland.

That decision came despite a £35,000 survey, commissioned by the council, identifying widespread flouting of parking restrictions, particularly by motorists in Galashiels, Kelso and Hawick.

At last week’s meeting, another Galashiels councillor, Sandy Aitchison, the authority’s executive member for neighbourhoods and localities, conceded the police had “real problems” in enforcing parking regulations.

He added: “We will look at any suggestions which come from the working group, but, at this stage, we should not commit ourselves to coming up with an enforcement solution.”