Borders council chiefs reject plea for extra enforcement measures to tackle illegal parking

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar in Selkirk High Street.
Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar in Selkirk High Street.

Council chiefs plan to launch a campaign to tackle antisocial parking but will not be introducing extra enforcement measures.

A group of councillors has published a full review of parking problems in the region including recommendations on enforcement, signage and double-yellow lines.

Scottish Borders Council’s parking issues working group has spent over a year carrying out surveys, researching the availability of parking in Borders towns and investigating the cost of enforcement measures.

It has come up with six recommendations – ensuring that all Borders towns have the same parking and waiting restrictions; erecting signage to long and short-stay carparks; updating single and double-yellow line markings; creating a media campaign encouraging fair play when parking; considering new enforcement measures and funding; and carrying out feasibility studies to inform future infrastructure works.

However, those recommendations would come at a cost, with the report estimating that the council would need to find between £326,750 and £904,650 to fund them.

At a meeting of the council’s executive committee on Tuesday, councillors were asked by the local authority’s service director for assets and infrastructure, Martin Joyce, not to accept the working group’s enforcement recommendations due to costs involved.

Members of the executive committee accepted Mr Joyce’s advice, but Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, chairman of the seven-strong parking issues working group, urged his fellow councillors to accept the recommendations in full.

He told the committee: “This is not a way forward I totally agree with. I represent the people of Selkirkshire, which includes Selkirk and Newtown, which are both towns with serious parking problems.

“This has been recognised not only by local residents, but in Newtown’s case, also the council itself.

“From the survey returns, it can be seen that every town surveyed has a problem with compliance with parking regulations.

“As councillors, we have a duty to ensure that the people living in and visiting the Borders do so in a safe and, where possible, pleasant environment.

“We have to listen to the people we are elected to serve.

“The recommendations in the council officer’s report do not give me confidence that the situation will improve.

“It is obvious to me that the police are not able to provide a parking management service on a regular basis with the resources available to them.

“Parking control does not appear to be a high priority for the police, although illegal parking is still a criminal offence.”

The executive expressed sympathy for Mr Edgar’s position but it was pointed out that the council has recently committed to funding a second police community action team, and it will look at parking issues as well as anti-social behaviour and drug-dealing.

The first community action team, formed in April 2018, issued 632 parking tickets over a nine-month period, and executive committee members felt that the second team should be given a chance to prove its worth before bringing in additional enforcement measures.