Greens challenge £100k on free parking campaign

Edinburgh’s Green councillors have hit out at a £100,000 campaign to offer free city centre parking at festival times and have demanded to see alternative proposals. 

The Council will today discuss extending the so-called “Alive after Five” campaign.  The first phase offered free city centre parking after 5pm during the festival period 6 August to 1 September, while it is proposed to extend the campaign over the period 3 December to 5 January.

The Greens have queried whether the estimated £96,000 in lost parking charges offers value for money and argued that the same objective could be achieved more fully by looking at alternatives.

The Greens Economy Spokesperson, Gavin Corbett said:

“I am 100% behind the aim of promoting the city centre as a great place to spend the early evening.  But I seriously question whether offering free parking at the cost of £100,000 is the best way to achieve that. We might as well just rebrand “Alive after Five” as “Drive after Five”

“The very flimsy evaluation carried out of the summer campaign does not demonstrate that free parking is crucial in people’s decision to come to or stay in the city centre in the early evening.  At least half of those surveyed would have stayed in the centre anyway, without free parking. And, of course, the big risk is that we are simply encouraging more cars into the centre when it is already congested enough.

“Across Europe the most successful, vibrant and economically dynamic city-centres are those which are changing the balance between people and cars and offering a much higher quality environment for businesses.  I cannot see why Edinburgh should be different.

“So I want the City Council to take a long hard look at alternative ways of spending £100,000 to achieve the same aim.

Among the Greens suggestions for alternative investment are:

– Investigating enhanced bus services for early evening

– investing in enhanced public transport information 

– Measures to improve pedestrian experience

In addition, the Greens have called for better research into the reasons why people might come to the city centre, with a view to producing a more mixed package of incentives in future years.