Free town centre parking under threat

Free parking in Aberdeenshire towns could be ended
Free parking in Aberdeenshire towns could be ended

Free parking in town centres across Aberdeenshire, including Banchory, could be abolished in a bid to cover a £160,000 budget deficit.

Members of the council’s infrastructure services committee are meeting today to discuss the scheme, in operation in more than a dozen communities.

Businesses and community representatives are urging the authority not to scrap the free parking, highlighting the positive impact on local high streets.

The current tariffs were applied in December, 2014, to encourage local people to visit town centres.

Motorists are entitled to free parking for between 30 minutes and an hour.

A report to councillors reveals that there has been a 75% increase in the use of car parks following the introduction of the free parking scheme, totalling around 1.4 million transactions, however a massive 80 per cent of these were free.

While the rise in the use of the car parks is welcomed, council officials say this has had “a significant impact on revenue”, with a deficit of around £160,000.

The committee will discuss six potential options that include removing free parking, setting a standard free period, increasing current payment tariffs, extending charges into more car parks in Aberdeenshire and a review of hours of charging.

The sixth option will see members review the management and provision of electric vehicle charge points.

If agreed, parking charges could increase meaning that parking for 0-2 hours, currently at £1.20, could jump to £2, and those paying for up to three hours could have to pay £3 instead of the current charge of £2.