>> 18 June 2009


SNP councillors have successfully postponed moves by the Liberal Democrat/Conservative administration on Aberdeenshire Council to increase town centre parking charges.

At today's meeting of the Infrastructure Services Committee, councillors voted 7-6 in favour of above-inflation increases in the cost of parking in a council-operated car park. However, in a procedural move following the vote SNP councillors present asked that the matter should be referred to a meeting of the Full Council. This required one third of councillors present to agree and the matter will now go before all 68 members of the council at a future meeting.

Commenting following the meeting, Infrastructure Services Committee member Cllr Fiona McRae (Peterhead North & Rattray) said:

"Such a large percentage increase in car parking charges at this time will do nothing to help local businesses and our town centres in the face of the current recession.

"The SNP Government have been working hard to boost the local economy by removing business rates for small businesses and reducing them for others, and also freezing the council tax to help put more money into the pockets of ordinary working families.

"For the Liberals and Conservatives who run Aberdeenshire Council to then come along with this plan to increase parking charges simply beggars belief."

Fellow SNP councillor Stuart Pratt (Peterhead South & Cruden) who also sits on the Infrastructure Services Committee proposed an amendment "that the council listens to the people and takes cognisance of the consultation responses and take no action on increases". He added:

"When this matter was discussed previously, I took serious issue with the description of the increase as being ‘roughly in line with inflation’, since it did not reflect any rate of inflation which I have seen published in recent years. This is nothing more than a tax on town centre shoppers.

"While we have won the battle today, the real test will come when all 68 councillors in Aberdeenshire get a chance to show whether they want to support local businesses at this time of recession by rejecting these draconian parking increases."

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