Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on Aberdeenshire Council to review the impact on local businesses of its decision to withdraw free parking periods from its pay-and-display car parks after a bedding-in period.
The free periods were abolished by the Conservative Lib-Dem administration earlier this year, despite costed proposals from SNP councillors which would have seen the car parks breaking even but retaining a half-hour free period.
Mr Stevenson said: “In their justification for abolishing free periods from the pay-and-display car parks across Aberdeenshire, the council’s Tory-Lib-Dem administration has been keen to point out that 75 per cent of all car park spaces remain free of charge, with only 25 per cent requiring payment.
“That may well be the case if you average out figures, but Peterhead is disproportionately affected with only 124 of the 343 unrestricted spaces in town remaining free of charge - only 36 per cent of the total.
“I know the council is serious in its efforts on regeneration across the towns in my constituency, including Peterhead, so I know that we both want to see an increase in footfall in our town centres to support local businesses.
“These charges not only have a negative effect but are now shown to be particularly hard-hitting in Peterhead were there are less free spaces available.
“There needs to be a review of the spread of free spaces across Aberdeenshire’s largest town so that shoppers aren’t put off from stopping for a brief period in the town centre and I’ve asked the council if they will reconsider the number of free spaces provided in the town.”
Analysis of council car parks in Peterhead shows that there are a total of 385 off-street spaces of which 166 are free and 219 are Pay-and-Display, formerly with a free period of parking.
Of the free spaces, 42 are restricted use (disabled/motorcycle/lorry/coach/EV chargepoint) spaces, leaving 124 free spaces generally available (mainly Lido and York Street car parks).
Of those available without restrictions on use, 64% (219) are chargeable and only 36% (124) are free of charge.
At the ISC meeting in November, chairman Councillor Peter Argyle stressed that around 75% of all parking remained free in the region’s towns through off-street spaces and said there were no proposals to change that.
He said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that we are not ending free parking in Aberdeenshire. Seventy five percent of all the places off-street and 100% of all the places on-street where people can park in Aberdeenshire are currently free and there is absolutely no proposal to change that.”