Business owners fearing for their future have accused Angus Council of a lack of understanding of public concern over the recently-introduced parking charges.
Following a lengthy meeting between representatives of the Angus Business and Retailers Association and a handful of local councillors, ABRA members say they are convinced more needs to be done to ensure their towns have a viable future.
Brechin businessman Bruce Robertson said there had been a “lack of understanding” from the council about the feelings of the general public who boycotted off-street car parks since charges were introduced on November 1.
He said: “They seem to believe, if they offer alternative payment methods, the car park boycott will end.
“It is disappointing they, once again, have failed to listen to public opinion.”
Mr Robertson criticised a lack of consultation and economic impact assessment over the charges, claiming retailers’ incomes had dropped by in excess of 25% overnight.
He said a survey by Angus Councillor David Cheape revealed retail sales were down 25% and one business was down 54%.
“These figures continue to threaten the viability of many businesses throughout Angus,” he said.
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“Some have laid off staff, some have cut their trading hours to reduce wages and some have closed. We are not yet three months into this regime.”
ABRA has called for a free period of two hours, coin machines and annual parking permits reduced to £60 per year.
Mr Robertson added: “As things stand the council is losing money, businesses are losing money and the people of Angus are losing their community.”
And he hit out against plans to introduce a scratch-card scheme in Angus, pointing to past experience in St Andrews where the project was scrapped.
Another objector Barrie Ewart of Kirriemuir, has urged the council to reduce the permit cost, consider individual towns one by one, offer a grace period in all car parks and introduce cash payment.
He said: “Every minute the council delay the inevitable demise of the parking charge scheme, they are killing the high streets of Angus.”
An Angus Council spokesman said: “A member officer working group was established, as agreed at the communities committee meeting on January 15.
“The group’s remit is to develop cash payment options for Angus Council’s off-street car parks, either by scratch card or cash meters in the car parks and, as part of this, they have asked members of the public to contact them with their views.
“The group’s proposals will be presented to the next meeting of the communities committee on February 26.”