Angus Council proposing 15 minutes of free parking as public opposition grows

© DC ThomsonJill Scott in Brechin High Street, with her petition against proposed parking charges.
Jill Scott in Brechin High Street, with her petition against proposed parking charges.

Angus Council has already bowed to public pressure before beginning a formal consultation process on introducing parking charges in October.

As opposition against the money-making venture grows, with more than 3,200 people signing an online petition, the local authority is urging local residents to complete a survey by May 8.

Brechin campaigner Jill Scott set up the Save Our Shops Angus petition which demands a half-hour period of grace, but the survey suggests the council plans to meet protesters half way by offering a fifteen minute period of grace.

Councillors approved the introduction of charges for on and off-street parking in February.

Off-street parking in public Angus Council car parks will be available for both short and long stays.

A flat rate of £1 per hour is proposed for the first four hours (long stay) of parking.
Stays of four to nine hours in long stay car parks will be subject to the maximum daily charge of £4.

The plans were met with anger by local business leaders who warned they would lead to ‘tumbleweed towns.’

Ms Scott,  chairman of Brechin Community Council, started the petition stating: “Parking charges will have a detrimental impact on our already struggling shops and town centres.

“In Angus Council budget papers we can see no mention of 30 mins free parking, parking charges start once parked.

“We are calling on Angus Council to allow 30 minutes free parking on our streets to assist our local shops/business.”

The consultation document has nine questions, the first asking participants if they would like a concession of 15 minutes free parking which would provide “greater flexibility for shoppers and businesses.”

Views are also being sought on a maximum daily charge, and should annual tickets be made available for off-street parking for residents within time restricted on street parking areas.

The council stated charges are being reintroduced to allow it to protect vital services at a time of radical reductions to local authority funding.

The charges will ensure quality off street car parking is enhanced throughout Angus for both local shoppers and visitors.

Blue Badge holders will continue to be able to park for free.

Arbroath West and Letham Independent Councillor David Fairweather said: “It’s important our town centres are thriving places to visit.

“Providing parking facilities that allow easy access to shops and local businesses is essential and the introduction of these plans will increase the turnover of spaces in our car parks and on-street parking spaces.

“All councils are faced with a real terms decline in Scottish Government grant funding and demand for critical services.

“We are seeking to balance the budget by reducing costs and increasing income. These modest charges will allow us to protect frontline services and deliver parking provision for members of the public who require this facility.”

Among those who signed the petition was Bill Bowles, former Independent  Carnoustie councillor.

On the petition’s online site he said: “I was a councillor last time around and was totally against this.

“Parking charges are for ensuring traffic flow not as a cash cow for a cash starved council.

“Shame on you Angus Council. This only harms our fragile local economies.”

Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie has written to Angus Council chief executive, Margo Williamson, regarding the charges.

The MP, who represents  Monifeith and Carnoustie, raised concerns over small businesses and the high streets in the towns.

He said: “I understand for many local authorities times are tough and savings have to be made but the council should be considering options that won’t harm small local businesses and residents in Angus especially considering Angus Council has received an extra £6 million from the Scottish Government in the last two years.

“Places like Carnoustie and Monifeith still have thriving high streets and I’m sure everyone is keen that is maintained.”

The move will see charges return in Angus for the first time since the days of the former Tayside Regional Council after councillors agreed a budget proposal which indicated an expected full-year financial return of some £700,000 for the cash-strapped authority.