Coun­cil in­come from park­ing hit by protests

De­cem­ber fig­ures show an­other dra­matic fall as anger grows

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GRA­HAM BROWN

In­come plum­meted dur­ing De­cem­ber as shop­pers stayed away from An­gus off-street car parks in con­tin­ued protest over con­tro­ver­sial coun­cil charges.

Sec­ond full-month fig­ures for the scheme, which was brought in on No­vem­ber 1, have shown a near 11% drop in in­come from ma­chines at the area’s 33 off-street car parks.

Just 22 park­ing per­mits were bought be­tween the end of No­vem­ber and Box­ing Day and penalty charge tak­ings plunged more than 40% as mo­torists got to grips with the new cash­less equip­ment.

Cam­paign­ers have con­demned the coun­cil for its “bloody-minded” ap­proach to op­po­si­tion over the charges and say they be­lieve the au­thor­ity could be head­ing for a full-year loss on the scheme.

Mon­trose busi­ness­woman Michelle In­gram of the An­gus Busi­ness and Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, which emerged in protest over the charges, said: “This should serve as a wake-up call that it is not prov­ing to be the cash cow they thought it would be.”

I just hope the coun­cil is read­ing th­ese fig­ures very closely and that some­one can see sense and stop be­ing so blood­y­minded. BAR­RIE EWART

An­gus park­ing ticket in­come plum­meted across the area’s de­serted off-street car parks over the fes­tive pe­riod.

Fig­ures for the sec­ond full month of the charg­ing scheme have re­vealed the weeks from No­vem­ber 29 to Box­ing Day saw £22,917 paid at the 33 cash­less ma­chines across the district – a drop of 10% from the £25,639 gen­er­ated the pre­vi­ous month.

The con­tro­ver­sial charges were in­tro­duced on No­vem­ber 1.

Only 22 park­ing per­mits, com­pris­ing 19 six-monthly tick­ets and three an­nual £260 per­mits, were sold dur­ing the month, adding £3,250 to the bal­ance sheet.

The num­ber of penalty no­tices for off­street park­ing of­fences also showed a marked dip, down around a third from 270 in No­vem­ber to 181 last month.

That equated to a drop in in­come from £3,570 to £2,070.

Cam­paign­ers have ac­cused An­gus Coun­cil of “short sight­ed­ness” and re­peated a warn­ing the scheme is des­tined to fall far short of its pro­jected £700,000 full-year in­come.

Kir­riemuir garage owner Bar­rie Ewart, a lead­ing op­po­nent of the charges, said: “I think we have seen rea­son­ably good sup­port for our town cen­tres from peo­ple who came to shop in De­cem­ber, but this sug­gests they were park­ing some­where else.

“I just hope the coun­cil is read­ing th­ese fig­ures very closely and that some­one can see sense and stop be­ing so bloody-minded, which is what they have been about the whole thing.

“Us­ing the coun­cil’s own fig­ures, I cal­cu­lated that they were barely go­ing to break even and what we are look­ing at now is that they are not go­ing to have an in­come – they are go­ing to have an ex­tra ex­pense.”

Mon­trose busi­ness­woman Michelle In­gram, of the An­gus Busi­ness and Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion which emerged in protest over the charges, said: “I am dis­ap­pointed by the coun­cil’s short­sight­ed­ness as the fig­ures ob­vi­ously show they are not re­cov­er­ing any­where near their pro­jected in­come.

“With so many shops re­port­ing a drop in sales and in gen­eral foot­fall, I think it is safe to pre­sume that the coun­cil park­ing charges drove many De­cem­ber shop­pers away from our high streets and into the edge-of-town re­tail parks or cities dur­ing what should have been one of the high streets’ busi­est months.

“The low num­ber of per­mits should serve as a wake-up call to the coun­cil that peo­ple are un­pre­pared – or per­haps un­able – to pay for a park­ing per­mit and are seek­ing other al­ter­na­tives, and that this is not prov­ing to be the cash cow they thought it would be.”

The au­thor­ity pre­vi­ously re­jected sug­ges­tions the suc­cess of the scheme could be based on first-month in­come fig­ures, say­ing fore­casts were con­sid­ered to be “open to a very large mar­gin of er­ror”.

For­far’s Myre car park was vir­tu­ally de­serted at 11am on the morn­ing of Christ­mas Eve.

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