Persistence from a local councillor has resulted in a free parking experiment in Elgin being extended – but not to all local authority parking areas in the town.
Earlier this month Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross found himself isolated when no colleague on the economic development and infrastructure committee would support his contention that a six-month ‘Free after Three’ parking trial should not be restricted to just the one under-used multi-story car park facility.
Undaunted, Councillor Ross vowed to take his case to the Full Council – and on Wednesday that resulted in a partial victory for the rebellious former administration member when it was agreed to meet part of his demands and extend the trial to include the St Giles Centre car park.
Supported by his Tory colleague James Allan, Councillor Ross insisted that if the scheme to allow free parking after 3pm was to be a success it could not be restricted to one parking area.
He said: “While I welcomed the initial idea of a car park being free after 3pm to encourage more people into the town centre, I was concerned that agreeing to trial this scheme in just one of the twelve car parks where charges are levied would be confusing to the public and produce the greatest benefit for the shops closest to the chosen car park.
“Our motion to extend the trial to all car parks would have removed both of these concerns but unfortunately we didn’t get enough support for that move but I’m glad our motion has made councillors realise that more than one car park was needed for the trial to be worthwhile and now the two multi-storey car parks in Elgin will be free after 3pm during the trial.
“I’m very hopeful that the scheme will be a success and I’d encourage people to use this offer during the trial, to shop in the high street and the local shops in Elgin and perhaps after the six months we can finally extend the scheme to every car park in Elgin.”
The trial will begin in June with council officials estimating it will cost around £15,500 in lost income to the local authority.
Councillor Allan said: “Elgin is the only area in Moray where we charge people to park and that must have an impact on our shops.
“I know people use the retail park for some of their shopping as it’s free to park there so I believe this move will encourage more people into Elgin and to use the shops.
“Anything we can do to help local retailers should be tried and I look forward to hearing the results of the trial which is due to start in June.”