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PRIVATE PARKING ZONE STARTS IN EDINBURGH

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Scotland's first-parking area patrolled by a private company opened in Edinburgh yesterday, reports The Scotsman (p...
Scotland's first-parking area patrolled by a private company opened in Edinburgh yesterday, reports The Scotsman (p5).

However, the decriminalised parking zone, which is now being run by Apcoa, attracted criticism as the company had failed to recruit the full complement of staff in time to take over the operation.

Allan Jackson, the Conservative transport spokesman for Edinburgh said he would call for an inquiry into why the number of attendants, who were to have been local people, was not at the required level.

Edinburgh City Council has denied that the lack of attendants on the opening day of the project was an embarrassment to the council or the Scottish Office.

A spokesman said: 'The quality of the service is more important than the numbers of attendants on the street. We fully support Apcoa in their policy of only recruiting people of succificient calibre to provide a quality service.'

Apart from parking control being privatised, with the money going directly to Edinburgh City Council instead of the government, the biggest change in the system is in penalties. The new parking tickets will incur a penalty of£40, or£20 if it is paid within 14 days.

The government is to monitor the scheme, which will allow the cash gathered from parking fines to be reinvested by the council into local traffic management.

The Scottish transport minister, Calum MacDonald, said: 'Let me make clear that this is not a soft approach to illegal parking. I know some motorists have expressed concern about the introduction of the scheme, but it is only those who flout or disregard parking rules who will have anything to fear.

'Decriminalising parking offences gives our councils the necessary powers to provide more effective parking and traffic management.'

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