Elgin Parking pressure on as Free after Three is a success

Free after 3 trial declared a success
Free after 3 trial declared a success

A FREE PARKING scheme in Elgin conducted over the last six months of 2015 proved to be a resounding success, according to a report before Councillors this week.

The ‘Free after Three’ scheme was initially proposed after submissions from the Elgin BID – and while initially proposed to operate only in the Batchen Lane car park, was later amended under pressure from Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross to include the St Giles car park.

In the report on the scheme being put to Councillors on Tuesday, it is noted that the scheme resulted in an 18% increase in the number of vehicles using the car parks when compared to the same period in the previous year.

Report author Nicola Ross, who is Transportation Manager at Moray Council, added: “It is worth noting that Batchen Lane and St Giles car parks saw significant percentage increases in parking during the scheme, whereas the other car parks (which have a greater total number of vehicles parking) saw a percentage decrease.

“As it is highly likely that there was some migration in parking location as a result of the scheme, the net total effect is being used for scheme evaluation. This accounts for people who would otherwise have parked in another council operated car park, but does not account for any increase in parking from people who would otherwise have parked on-street.”

The report notes that the cost to the Council of the experiment was £16,949 – the value of tickets sold in 2014 for the corresponding period.

A separate report on the effects of the experiment from Elgin BID indicates an uplift in retail trade during the trial, with Ms Ross noting: “The Elgin BID report does clearly demonstrate popular support for the scheme. It is not possible to calculate the value of the scheme in terms of its economic impact for the town centre retailers.”

However, hopes of the trial resulting in a permanent change to parking arrangements are dampened in the report where it concludes the total cost of extending it year round would see a loss of £30,000, while extending it to all Elgin car parks would increase that annual loss to £72,000.

The report also concludes that “there is no robust quantitative evidence that the impact on the local economy is commensurate with the loss of revenue to the Council”.