Free festive parking in Perth city centre could be replaced with bus travel as part of a ‘Green Christmas’ plan to cut air pollution.
The ‘Green Christmas’ idea comes from a group of business and community leaders who are developing plans to make Perth the most sustainable small city in Europe.
Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) currently subsidise free parking on Saturdays during December in a move designed to boost festive footfall and support city centre traders.
Prior to Covid-19 pandemic, the city’s Christmas market would bring hundreds of extra shoppers into the heart of the city.
Who is behind Perth Green Christmas plan?
David Howe is the leader of the Perth Place Leadership Forum’s transport and connectivity group.
He has met with PKC leader Murray Lyle and environment convener Angus Forbes to ask them to switch the parking subsidy towards free bus travel on Saturdays and Sundays instead.
The free buses would bring people from across Perth and the surrounding towns and villages and into the city centre.
“Pollution has increased in Perth city centre and is constantly on the up. That’s a problem.
“The more we can do to reduce the volume of cars going into the city centre the better.
“We are also conscious the people who are in the cars are the lifeblood of the traders in the city.
“Christmas is the most profitable time for most traders. We have to be sensitive to that.”
“We want to get everybody, including those from the towns and villages surrounding the city, into Perth for little or no cost.
“So we can really encourage people to use different modes of transport.”
The individuals working toward improving sustainability in Perth are drawn from business, academia, public and charity sectors.
Mr Howe is a general manager at Microsoft. His group includes representation from business, Stagecoach, a senior vascular health researcher, charity leaders, a sustainable transport campaigner and a senior statistician.
He said he did not know exactly how much traffic the move would take off the road.
He also hopes Stagecoach’s incoming fleet of electric buses would be in place by Christmas.
“We would encourage more people to use public transport. That public transport is net zero emissions as well.
“That would be a great place to be.”
What do retailers think?
Lori McGaffney is the owner of Eva Lucia Boutique on Perth’s High Street and a Perthshire Chamber of Commerce director.
She said: “With any major decision around the city centre, trade and access it would be important to consult and engage with the local businesses who are impacted and we would welcome that approach and those discussions.”
Perth and Kinross Council has been approached for comment.