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Shire Opposition Refers Parking Proposals to Full Council - "Free Period Must be Retained"

>> 30 November 2018

Opposition councillors in Aberdeenshire have called for free parking periods in the area’s council car parks to be retained, after they succeeded in referring proposals which would have scrapped the current free period to a future meeting of all councillors.

The referral to full council came after a discussion at today’s Infrastructure Services Committee on the council’s recent review of off-street parking in Aberdeenshire.

Committee Chair Cllr Peter Argyle (LD) – seconded by North Kincardine Councillor Iain Mollison (LD) - moved to begin a formal consultation on a proposal which would have increased parking tariffs while removing the current free period.

A counter-proposal from opposition councillors – which would have instead consulted on retaining a half-hour free parking period in all settlements and introducing it to the first time to Huntly, together with an adjustment to parking tariffs to bring the car park budget back into balance – was defeated by 9 votes to 5.

At the request of opposition members and in line with council standing orders which allow for such referrals to take place, the matter was then referred to the full council for wider consideration.

During debate, Cllr Glen Reid (SNP) thanked council officers involved in the preparation of the report and councillors who served on the recent Member Officer Working Group. However, he expressed his disappointment at administration councillors’ support for the removal of any free period. Afterwards, he said:

“All across Aberdeenshire’s towns, we can see the benefits that have been brought by the introduction of a short free period for parking”, he said.

“Our proposal today would have seen us consult on free parking periods being retained with a further review of the impact after 12 months.

“This referral to full council will give all councillors the opportunity to have their say on all the options and to make the final decision on whether or not a free period should be part of the proposal that goes forward.”

Opposition Leader and Ellon & District Councillor Richard Thomson (SNP) added:

“Most people using the free period are making some kind of ‘grab and go’ purchase, all of which helps maintain the prosperity and wellbeing of our town centres. If they have to pay, many customers will choose to go instead to the supermarkets.

“While no-one wants to see council car parks running at a deficit, there’s no justification for the measures being proposed by the administration, which risk hitting town centre trade while raising far more than we need for car parks to break even.

“Car parks are there to help people use our town centres and not to act as either a cash drain or a cash cow. I hope that the administration will reconsider and come back with proposals which strike a better balance between increasing revenues and supporting our town centres."

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