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Forfar retailers say pandemic should sound death knell for parking charges

Businesspeople Katherine McLean, Charles Jarvis, John Blake, Amanda Duncan and Stuart Pirie are among those from 60 Forfar businesses calling for parking charges to be dropped.
Businesspeople Katherine McLean, Charles Jarvis, John Blake, Amanda Duncan and Stuart Pirie are among those from 60 Forfar businesses calling for parking charges to be dropped.

Forfar retailers are leading a fresh revolt against Angus off-street parking charges.

Although Angus Council has said there are no plans to remove covers which have been on car park meters since early in the pandemic, more than 60 town businesses have asked for the controversial scheme to be dropped.

Reintroduced in 2018 after a gap of two decades, the charging scheme at more than 30 car parks has failed to come close to financial forecasts.

In an open letter to local councillors, the Forfar retailers said they fear the return of fees would be a hammer blow to the prospects of post-pandemic recovery.

“Forfar’s high street has undergone many changes, with strong competition from national multiples coming into town, online shopping, the weaker economy and the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have all struggled and continue to do so.

“The main thing that is stopping people coming into town is the parking charges. This seems to be clear to everyone. It’s not making economic sense to Angus Council and it’s killing the town.”

The retailers added: “We are gradually coming out of lockdown and finding our feet again but within just a few months our next big challenge is looming; the end of the Brexit transitional period.

“None of us know what exactly this entails but it will certainly affect consumer confidence which will knock footfall just when we need it most.

“We need to be meeting this challenge from a strong local base but sadly there is nothing positive to hold on to at the moment.”

Forfar administration councillor Braden Davy previously called for the parking charges to remain suspended until the end of the current council term in 2022.

A council spokesperson said: “There are no plans currently to lift the suspension of off-street car parking charges, which were introduced in response to Covid-19.”

The authority also said there was a “misconception” around the role of its community enforcement team, which has been back in action issuing fines.

“Their role, which existed long-before the introduction of off-street parking charges, covers a full range of enforcement duties, including on-street parking, dog fouling, littering and anti-social behaviour.

“No additional wardens are employed to deal with infringements relating to payment of off-street car parking charges.

“Presently, they are carrying out on-street enforcement duties and may be seen in our off-street car parks, where they will be enforcing infringements around electric vehicle charging bays, disabled bays and cars parking outwith bays.

“All these rules still apply, even while our off-street car parking charges remain suspended, so we ask drivers to ensure that they park correctly.”

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