Angus Council’s administration is set to bow to “people power” and perform a costly U-turn over parking.
Proposals have been drawn up to place coin-operated meters in nearly half of the county’s 33 off-street car parks. They will be considered by councillors on Thursday.
The council said recommendations to enhance the service by installing 14 solar-powered coin-operated meters and signage at a cost of £43,266 are in response to public demand, highlighted through responses to a recent short survey.
Almost 75% of people favoured the introduction of coin-operated meters, with two-thirds of those who took part saying they would use the car parks “more frequently” if they could use coins.
Stung by the backlash over the system brought in last November, the maximum waiting period has already been doubled from two to four hours following feedback from motorists.
The local authority also introduced a monthly permit and removed the need to key in vehicle registrations following further tweaks to the scheme.
SNP group leader Lynne Devine said: “This is coming very late in the day for some of our businesses.
“The SNP group gave the administration a way out of their mess several times months ago, but they refused on every occasion.
“Now, they are bringing this report before us on Thursday which is very long and complicated, giving a lot of options but at great expense.
“In reality we still feel that the smaller towns are being badly hit and coin-operated machines will not necessarily solve this.”
The SNP will be discussing the issue at its group meeting to decide how to respond ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
Recommendations are for coin-operated machines to be installed at four off-street car parks in Arbroath and two in each of Brechin, Carnoustie, Forfar, Kirriemuir and Montrose.
Communities convener Mark Salmond admitted the council “moved too far and too fast” in its “drive to be digital”.
He said: “That came through loud and clear from the conversation with our communities, which was asked for by the Member Officer Working Group set up to look into adding cash payments.
“I do regret that some people have found difficulties with the cashless-only option, but that is something that we are trying to put right.
“We want to make the process of paying to park in Angus as simple as we can for everyone.
“There is a cost involved in these solutions, but these are refinements that have been identified and called for by the public and by elected members from all sides of this council.
“We have heard what was being said and I hope all will welcome our desire to find an equitable solution.
“Due to the financial circumstances that we find ourselves in, scrapping off-street parking charges was never an option.
“In common with other local authorities, we must find income where we can and cannot afford to be one of the few councils not to charge for parking.
“But we are also committed to ensuring that paying to park in Angus works for Angus and its people, which is why we will continue to monitor and review the scheme.”