Angus councillors are to re-examine the vexed question of charges for the county’s off-street car parks –but only the process of how the controversial system came into being.
As the clamour continues for a suspension of the charges, introduced at the beginning of November, the local authority’s SNP opposition has added its voice to a call to allow free Saturday parking in the run up to Christmas.
The ruling rainbow coalition has so far rejected demands for a complete u-turn on the charges, which it’s hoped will generate £700,000 a year to plough into repairing the area’s deteriorating roads.
A petition delivered to the council’s Forfar HQ by a noisy convoy of disgruntled drivers was considered by scrutiny and audit committee councillors on Tuesday.
Members moved to set up a cross-party panel to look at the lead up to the implementation of the charges.
It will gather evidence on the controversial system and make possible recommendations to a future decision-making committee of the authority.
Montrose and District SNP councillor Bill Duff said: “Since their introduction, these have cause much public comment and criticism of council officers and elected members.
“We’ve seen cavalcades, petitions and sundry meetings on the matter.”
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He highlighted the opposition group’s concerns over a lack of information and “contradictory financial forecasts” surrounding the projected income.
Committee convener, Arbroath West and Letham SNP councillor Alex King said: “We’re not changing the decision, we want to examine the processes that we took to get there.”
SNP group leader, Forfar councillor Lynne Devine said: “We took this decision because at every step along the way, our requests for information were thwarted.
“We now have an opportunity to rectify that and find out why and how certain things were decided.”
She added: “That will take time, and people in Angus are keen for something to happen now.
“We would urge the administration to allow free Saturday parking from now until Christmas and to look into the possibility of having at least one coin-operated machine in each of the large car parks.
“We are aware that this will cost more money, but as they are losing income hand over fist presently, we feel this would be a good compromise,” said Ms Devine.