Fears over ‘taxpayer subsidy’ to attract new businesses

Fears over relaxing of
Fears over relaxing of business parking contribution fees

INCREASED INTEREST BY businesses towards empty buildings in Moray’s town centres could end up coming at a high price for local taxpayers.

That was the fear being expressed by members of the planning and regulatory services committee at Moray Council, who agreed earlier this week to allow officials to adopt a “more flexible” approach over parking provision discussions with developers.

Councillors were told that there has been an increased interest in businesses seeking to lease unused properties in Elgin since a survey conducted earlier this year. That was the result of the Elgin town centre charrette held in March, which produced 400 responses during the four-day consultation exercise.

A major bar to businesses moving into town centres was the contribution fees they had to pay towards Council parking. Now officials have been given greater flexibility to waive these fees entirely.

Buckie councillor Gordon McDonald said that although he could see the benefit of this he was left uncomfortable with the idea that the local authority would need to pick up any shortfall any drop in contribution would create.

He said: “My concern is the financial implications this creates, and the fact that we would be using taxpayer money to fund these spaces.”

However, committee chairman Councillor Chris Tuke pointed out that any decision on whether to waive the parking contribution fees would be taken on “a case-by-case basis”.

His fellow Heldon and Laich colleague, John Cowe, added that “Any pragmatic and common sense approach we can take to revitalise town centres across Moray is welcome.”