Aberdeenshire Councillors are set to vote on proposals whether to remove free parking periods from ‘Pay & Display’ car parks.
The ruling Conservative and Liberal Democrat council administration have brought forward proposals which would see the introduction of a 50p charge for the first hour of parking. Carparks which are currently free would not see an additional charge introduced.
Administration councillors have been warned by opposition councillor Leigh Wilson who will say they “have learned nothing from the folly of Angus Council” if they press ahead with plans to end free parking.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s crunch vote, the Mearns SNP councillor said he has seen for himself how formerly busy car parks in Angus “are now lying empty in a council concocted wasteland”.
In a bid to start making a profit from Aberdeenshire’s loss-making car parks, the council’s infrastructure services committee tried to begin the process of removing free parking periods from council ‘Pay and Display’ car parks last November.
A counter-proposal from SNP councillors – which would instead have balanced the car parking budget while retaining a half-hour free parking period in all settlements – was defeated by 9 votes to 5. However, the administration bid to scrap the free period was thwarted after opposition councillors insisted that any decision on the change be taken instead by all 70 councillors at a meeting of January’s full Aberdeenshire Council.
Speaking ahead of the full council debate on 17 January, Cllr Wilson said:
“This plan as it stands is a complete nonsense. Most people using the current free parking period are making some kind of ‘grab and go’ purchase. If they are forced to pay for making even a brief stop-off, many customers will choose to go instead to the supermarkets. Short free parking periods have helped sustain town centres and enjoy the support of shoppers and business owners alike. It beggars belief that some in Aberdeenshire council seem happy to take that away without giving serious consideration to the wider economic implications.
Mr Wilson continued, “If Aberdeenshire councillors press ahead with this decision they will have learned nothing from the folly of Angus Council. My ward borders Angus and I see for myself how formerly busy car parks are now lying empty in a council concocted wasteland. Every councillor in Aberdeenshire now has a vote on this, and with it, a choice to make on whether to back the ‘party line’ or to do what is right by their communities. I would urge them to listen carefully to the voices of their constituents and their local business owners by keeping in place a successful and popular policy which has been proven to work.”