Yet another pay and display hike beckons

YET another price hike has been approved for pay and display and country park car parks in Aberdeenshire by councillors.

The latest increase was decided at a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee, though a decision had already been taken by the full council last year to revise charges for parking and a consultation was held on proposed changes.

The local authority claims the new charges could generate an income of around £200,000 per year for projects including road repairs, though the council insists its parking policy’s main aim has always been to ensure the turnover of spaces in towns.

In total there are more than 4,000 car parking spaces across Aberdeenshire’s 109 car parks including those at Peterhead’s Broad Street and Threadneedle Street, and at Aden Country Park at Mintlaw. Only 1,100 of these are charged spaces in pay and display car parks and the remainder are free or for the use of blue badge holders.

There was some criticism at the committee meeting of the fact that assurances were made previously not to alter the charges until 2012.

But committee chairman Peter Argyle said councillors were faced with a very clear choice. He reminded them of the “enormous pressure” on the council to balance its budget, especially following two particularly hard winters.

“Most right-thinking people will recognise we are in a completely different place than at the time those assurances were given,” he said.

“I suppose the decision all of us have to face is whether to accept this increase and have an additional £200,000 to spend on our roads, and in so doing go back on a commitment that was given, or whether to find £200,000 out of our roads budget.”

The committee heard that the current policy is working well and it is not considered that the new charges – which it maintains are still modest in comparison to other authorities – will be detrimental.

The revised tariffs as of next week mean that parking in the Council’s Pay and Display car parks will increase from 40p to 60p for one hour; 80p to £1.20 for two hours, £1.50 to £2 for 3 hours, and from £4 to £5 for up to 10 hours.

There will also be small charge increases at Aberdeenshire Council’s four country park car parks.