CHRIST­MAS PARK­ING PRESENT FOR PERTH SHOP­PERS Free spa­ces in city cen­tre on Satur­days

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Paul Cargill

Coun­cil­lors have grasped a “golden op­por­tu­nity” to make Perth the most wel­com­ing city in Scot­land for Christ­mas shop­ping this year.

A free park­ing pol­icy cov­er­ing Satur­days in the run-up to the fes­tive sea­son was backed by al­most all mem­bers of the coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­ment, en­ter­prise and in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee this week.

Ap­proval came de­spite some con­cerns res­i­dents might end up tak­ing up park­ing spa­ces, rather than shop­pers, and one mem­ber asked for his dis­sent to be recorded in the meet­ing’s min­utes.

Be­fore the pol­icy was dis­cussed Dawn Fuge from Perth Traders As­so­ci­a­tion put for­ward the case for the pol­icy. Last year the coun­cil of­fered free park­ing after 2pm on Thurs­days and Fri­days in the weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

De­scrib­ing the new pol­icy as a “golden op­por­tu­nity” to tempt greater num­bers of peo­ple into the city cen­tre to shop this sea­son, Ms Fuge said:

“Free park­ing on a Satur­day is an ex­tremely at­trac­tive propo­si­tion.”

She went on: “This of­fer would be sim­ple and straight­for­ward and would be eas­ily un­der­stood by the pub­lic.

“Any­thing we can do to en­cour­age peo­ple into our town to stay for ex­tended pe­ri­ods can only be a good thing.”

But Coun­cil­lor Dave Doogan said he was sur­prised there was no men­tion in the pa­per of en­force­ment to make sure that peo­ple who parked but had no in­ten­tion of shop­ping would be told to va­cate their spa­ces to make way for peo­ple who did.

The lo­cal author­ity’s road ser­vices man­ager Chic Hag­gart con­ceded there was a risk peo­ple would abuse the new pol­icy but in­sisted it was worth try­ing to “see how it goes”.

Coun­cil­lor An­drew Par­rot also pointed out that it had been es­ti­mated the pol­icy would cost the coun­cil around £25,000 in lost park­ing rev­enue.

He said he would want to see ev­i­dence the pol­icy had led to greater eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the city cen­tre be­fore he backs it for a sec­ond time next year.

And Coun­cil­lor Alas­dair Bai­ley for­mally asked for his dis­sent from the de­ci­sion to be recorded, say­ing he still had “grave con­cerns” about sub­si­dis­ing the scheme.

“I’m also con­cerned there is no way of mea­sur­ing this to know whether it is suc­cess­ful or not,” he added.

To­wards the end of the dis­cus­sion Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor Mur­ray Lyle said he was dis­ap­pointed to hear some mem­bers ex­press­ing pes­simism about the pol­icy.

He went on: “I’m sure it will be more suc­cess­ful than the last at­tempt.”

Coun­cil­lor Doogan said it was his duty to prop­erly scru­ti­nise pol­icy.

And point­ing again to the money that the coun­cil is likely to lose as a re­sult of en­act­ing the new pol­icy, he added: “We shouldn’t do lightly and I think that is what we have done.”

The pol­icy will be in force from De­cem­ber 2-30 in coun­cil-run car parks.

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