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