A PEEBLES Community councillor has called for car parking charges to be introduced to the town.

Scott Watson says introducing a meter ticketed system will deter people parking for lengthy periods and generate an income to bring back traffic wardens.

But local councillors warned it is not as simple as it seems and decriminalisation of parking would need to be implemented across the Borders.

Mr Watson said: “This is my opinion and maybe no-one else’s but I think we should be looking to charge for parking on the High Street.

"I note that it’s 45 minutes at the moment but I’m suggesting we put in a meter or card system and charging a maximum of 45 mins to an hour stay for £2.

"Charging at all the other car parks at the moment - we charge I think it’s 20p for a Saturday, charge a pound for a whole day every day. That income should help generate money to pay for traffic wardens.”

When questioned about the logistics of the local authority taking on car parking charges, Councillor Stuart Bell explained: “It’s a criminal offence to park in contravention of the various restrictions, yellow lines and parking times.

"For the council to take responsibility for it, it has to cease to be a criminal offence and that’s part of the challenge because it would have to be decriminalised all the way across the Borders.”

It was felt that the local authority taking over parking management could prove too costly.

Chairman Lawrie Hayworth added: “A number of regional authorities, and Edinburgh is a good example, put to the Scottish Government a request to decriminalise the defined geographical area.

"There was quite a lot of research done by the Highland Council which would perhaps be more comparable, and it found that it was going to be extremely difficult to deliver that parking management without significant costs beyond what would be raised in parking fees or fines because it’s a very different shape to Edinburgh.

“It has been looked at in the past in the Borders, it is being reviewed now but the decision has to be made by elected members as to whether to submit a request to Scottish Government to decriminalise or not and there are pro cons in terms of the financial side when you have a geographical structure such as the Borders.”

Car park charges is a topic which has split opinion with elected councillors.

Councillor Stuart Bell said: “If I can respond to the 20p, take Greenside car park for example, we wanted that to be four hours free to encourage people to stay for a period of time and do a bit of shopping. Swimming pool similarly is free so that people could go and enjoy the pool but then suddenly there would be a ramp up charges in order to encourage vehicles to move on.”

The concept of the car parks being free is said to have caused “confusion” with the public.

“We actually tried it four hours free for a period of time and found that people got confused because they didn’t understand not paying,” said Councillor Bell.

“The solution that officers came up with, and I wasn’t very happy about it, was that if you charge them 20p they at least they know they have to put in 20p. So the reason behind this is because people can’t understand the concept of it being free. I know it’s odd but that’s the nature of where we are.”

He added: “The other thing that we resolved to do when we looked at this was not to charge for parking in order to raise money. The objective of the exercise was to ensure that the car parks were used in a sensible way. The Eastgate Car Park for example was available Monday to Friday; those people that wanted to commute to Edinburgh had the opportunity to use it as a car sharing car park or a place they could park to get the bus. Whereas other car parks were places that were preferential for people who were doing shopping and the charging structure varies across the car parks with the intention of directing drivers to car parks for different purposes. It’s perfectly legitimate to re-evaluate it.”

Peebles Community Council is to consider writing to council officers with its view on decriminalisation of parking.