A proposal to rip up parking charges in smaller Angus towns has been defeated.
The SNP motion put forward by group leader Lynne Devine – which would have scrapped fees in Brechin, Carnoustie and Kirriemuir – was defeated after going to a vote.
She said: “The one size fits all approach has been a disaster for all our towns but especially in the more fragile economies of Kirriemuir, Carnoustie and Brechin.
“The car parks are empty.
“They are bringing in nothing.”
Montrose SNP councillor Bill Duff said: “This motion is a compromise.
“Nobody is in favour of parking charges and we would like to remove them completely.
“However, we recognise the financial position the council is in. We have spent about £300,000 installing parking machines and we need the income from parking charges to plug a hole in our budget.”
Montrose Independent councillor Mark Salmond put forward an amendment that the charging regime should continue on an “equitable basis across all six burghs in Angus”.
Mr Salmond said the SNP motion would simply “sow division” and “set burgh against burgh”.
He said scrapping parking charges in smaller towns would create a “two-tier charging system” and there was “no valid reason” why other burghs should be treated differently.
Forfar Conservative councillor Braden Davy said: “This motion is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“The SNP motion would leave the people of Forfar paying, the people of Montrose paying and the people of Arbroath paying.
“I personally am not against the potential for a differential pricing system, but it is clear than such discrepancy with completely free parking in some towns, would harm other towns across Angus.
“The SNP through this motion would put businesses across Angus under a two-tier system, despite paying the same rates.
“Charges have led to £700,000 increases in road resurfacing.”
Montrose Independent councillor Tommy Stewart said parking charges were not to blame for businesses suffering poor trade and highlighted difficult trading conditions UK-wide.
Carnoustie SNP councillor Mark McDonald said he was “flabbergasted” by objections to the motion and described Mr Stewart’s comments as “absolutely unbelievable”.
Angus Council leader David Fairweather said “car parking was here to stay” before the debate was brought to an abrupt end before Carnoustie Independent Brian Boyd could speak.
Arbroath West and Letham Lib Dem Richard Moore put forward a motion that there should be no further debate on the subject and they should simply go to a vote.
The chamber was deadlocked but Angus provost Ronnie Proctor had the casting vote.
He went with Mr Moore’s motion and the debate ended before Mr Salmond’s amendment was voted through which defeated the SNP’s proposal.
Changes to time restrictions in Angus Council’s short-stay car parks were approved which means the maximum waiting period will double from two to four hours.
Drivers will also no longer have to key in their vehicle’s registration number at parking meters in a move intended to speed up the process.
All off-street parking will also be free for the last two Saturdays in November and each Saturday in December up to Christmas including Christmas Eve.
The council is also considering changes to the payment system following the introduction of controversial parking charges across the county on November 1.
The lack of a cash option has been heavily criticised by car park users and a council member/officer group was established to consider the introduction of a coin-operated system, or a scratchcard arrangement, which would involve motorists picking up permits from local shops.