Views sought on town centre parking

Cllr Peter Argyle says effective car parking is a critical element in ensuring that our towns are economically successful and deliver real benefits for those they serve.
Cllr Peter Argyle says effective car parking is a critical element in ensuring that our towns are economically successful and deliver real benefits for those they serve.

Views are being sought on the future of town centre car parking in Aberdeenshire to feed into a major review, which could see the decriminalisation of ‘on-street’ parking.

Vibrant town centres have many social benefits for communities and support local economies, attracting customers to businesses and providing local employment opportunities.

Parking which is accessible, well managed and which encourages fair usage is beneficial for town centres and those using local facilities.

Town centres are not just for the business community however; many also provide access to other activities including culture, leisure and sport.

While Aberdeenshire Council is currently responsible for managing car-parks it owns, it has no responsibility for the enforcement of ‘on-street’ parking. This is currently the responsibility of Police Scotland and until 2014 Traffic Wardens were specifically employed to fulfil this role.

In recent years, some Scottish local authorities have decided to decriminalise ‘on-street parking’, taking responsibility for enforcement away from the police. In these areas, Parking Attendants have been employed to manage car-parking, including ‘on-street’ facilities, in an attempt to provide an improved service to the public.

Aberdeenshire Council is considering whether this could be an option to improve parking and the vitality of town centres across the area.

The council would be able to issue penalties for inappropriate parking on double yellow lines, single yellow lines, misuse of disabled parking bays, School ‘Keep Clear’ areas and for overstaying in limited waiting spaces.

There may be more likelihood of members of the public being able to park near shops, a reduction in people circling town centres looking for on-street parking and road safety could be improved.

Responses to the consultation, which runs throughout the month of October, will help inform any decision.

Chairman of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), Peter Argyle, said: “Across the north-east, our town centres are a focal point for local communities and visitors alike.

“Effective car parking is a critical element in ensuring that our towns are economically successful and deliver real benefits for those they serve.

“This consultation will help us to establish a range of facts, including how people currently park in town centres, what influences them in their parking choices and their views on any potential decriminalisation of parking across Aberdeenshire.”

ISC vice chair, John Cox, added: “The business community is a key stakeholder in this process and the council is keen its voice is heard as part of the consultation.

“Our desire is to see thriving and successful town centres throughout Aberdeenshire and the results will provide us with the information we need to help plan for the future.”

The consultation is now available online and runs until October 31, with two versions available; one directed at the general public and another at businesses operating in town centres.

The survey for public users of town centres can be completed at http://bit.ly/2yGCmyh

The survey for town centre businesses can be found at http://bit.ly/2fI1JYV