EDINBURGH’S tram chaos has been blamed for a £400,000 drop in parking ticket revenue.
The fall is being put down to motorists avoiding the congested city centre which has seen months of traffic trouble due to the £545m transport project.
Others claim it is a sign that the capital’s notorious attendants are showing more restraint in doling out fines as well as more responsible parking.
But the figures have raised fears that small city businesses could lose out to bigger out-of-town firms.
Transport bosses at the capital’s council expect the amount of ticket revenue to tumble to around £6.5 million by the end of the financial year – down from £6.9m.
The city’s parking attendants issued 224,274 tickets in the 12 months to October – about 18,600 a month down from 20,000 last year.
On George Street – Scotland’s most ticketed road – the monthly average plunged by about 750 tickets compared to 2005.
Both Chambers Street and Chalmers Street moved up the poll, with parking attendants handing out more than 3,000 tickets on each.
Last year’s second most fined area, St Andrew Square, fell to fourth in the list, with more than 2,700 dished out in a year.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the results showed drivers were put off by the city centre.
Michael Dixon, spokesman for the FSB Edinburgh, said: “Theses figures, along with the fall in parking revenue, show that the number of people coming into town is down.
“This underlines how important it is to get the message out there that Edinburgh city centre remains a great place to shop and do business.”
During December the council offers free parking in certain streets to get shoppers into the capital but the scheme was limited this year due to lack of funding.
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport convener, said: “Parking attendants do not issue tickets for drivers for simply driving into the city centre, they issue them to drivers who park carelessly.
“There is ample off-street parking available within easy walking distance of the shops and other attractions.”
Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said that the fall in tickets reflected that it had become “extremely difficult” to drive into the city centre.
He said: “I have not heard of anywhere else where there has been a significant fall in the number of parking tickets.
“The fall-off perhaps reflects the fact that it has been extremely difficult to get into the city centre and also that people perceive it as such and just don’t bother.
“I would hope the figures are also down because the parking attendants are getting better. Edinburgh did promise to exercise more restraint and all these things should add up to a reduction.
“You shouldn’t rely on parking tickets to raise income and at least these figures show the numbers can go up and down.”
A spokesman for the tram project said the fall in the number of parking tickets was a matter for the council and declined to comment further.