Parking charge plan “complete nonsense”

Free parking could be removed from Aberdeenshire Council car parks, including Market Street in Ellon
Free parking could be removed from Aberdeenshire Council car parks, including Market Street in Ellon

An Ellon councillor has described plans to end free parking periods in council car parks as “complete nonsense” ahead of a crunch vote this week.

In a bid to start making a profit from Aberdeenshire’s loss-making car parks, Conservative and Lib-Dem members of 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 opposition councillors – which would instead have balanced the car parking budget while retaining a half-hour free parking period in all settlements and introducing a free period to Huntly for the first time - was defeated by 9 votes to 5, with Conservative and Lib Dem committee members voting against.

The Conservative and Lib Dem 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 debate on Thursday, January 17, Aberdeenshire Council’s Opposition Leader Cllr Richard Thomson 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 Conservative and Lib Dem members of the Infrastructure Services Committee seemed happy to take that away without giving serious consideration to the wider economic implications.

“Every administration councillor 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.”