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By Colin Smeeton
Parking charges are set to be introduced on the shorefront in Brodick.
It is the first time there has ever been a charge for parking on Arran, but the moved has been ruled out in the other island villages by North Ayrshire Council members who voted for the charges in Brodick at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The charges, which will take in the entire shorefront from near the ferry terminal to the Royal Bank of Scotland, are aimed at ensuring a regular turnover of available spaces and eliminating rogue parking.
Early proposals of the actual tariffs to be charged see them starting at £1 per hour and £3 for four hours, with all day tariff also under consideration. The charges in Brodick would be seasonal and operate seven days a week from April to October.
The measures are part of a council-wide strategy that will see short-stay parking charges introduced in Irvine, Kilwinning, Largs and Saltcoats.
A supervisor and up to six parking attendants will be employed to enforced the charges, although it is not thought any of them will be based on Arran full time.
Since the withdrawal of the Traffic Warden Service in 2012, the issue of parking offences has had to be dealt with by police officers, but this was only enforced in response to complaints or issues of obstructive parking.
The council has been powerless to take any enforcement action despite an increase in complaints regarding poor parking, so the decision to introduce parking charges has been allied with applying for the decriminalisation of parking enforcement (DPE) which will return enforcement measures back to the local authority who will be able to enforce the law through Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).
Councillor Jim Montgomerie, cabinet member for place, said: ‘We’ve taken a long, hard look at all aspects of car parking across North Ayrshire, considering how residents, motorists and visitors are impacted in every town (sic). That means we need a local co-ordinated parking enforcement service to ensure we have a sensible and balanced approach to parking in our town centres.
‘Currently 21 out of 32 local authorities in Scotland have DPE parking powers in place so we can hopefully learn valuable lessons from other areas to ensure that any changes are introduced smoothly.’
A report before the council cabinet stated: ‘The island of Arran is a well visited tourist destination and attracts a number of cars and other vehicles, particularly since the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET). The existing on street parking available at Brodick shorefront is well used by both visitors and residents of the island.
‘It is proposed to introduce seasonal parking charges along Brodick Shorefront to meet the needs of tourists and visitors where an all-day tariff will also be considered. It is anticipated this will provide for enhanced turnover of vehicles parked on the shorefront whist still facilitating island resident parking needs when choosing to leave their cars on the island whilst visiting the mainland.’
However, news of the move has been met with hostility on social media. Many of those commenting on an Arran community Facebook site expressed dismay and said that parking charges are not suitable for a small village like Brodick and that it is incongruous with attracting tourists.
Others see it as nothing more than a tax opportunity by stealth, while a large proportion fear the knock-on effects of charging for parking on the shorefront. Citing other areas on the mainland where parking charges were introduced and surrounding areas had become inundated with people parking their cars in residential roads, many are concerned that the introduction, once allowed, will spread to other villages.
Two consolations to the introduction of the changes are that the long-stay car park behind the small Co-op will remain free of charge and that the council will also be ‘reviewing the potential for resident parking permits’ to ensure local residents are not disadvantaged by the changes. How this would be implemented though remains uncertain.
The cabinet decision, while agreed, is not set in stone. It is expected that further engagement and consultation will be carried out with local elected members and residents before a final decision is taken. The council must also follow a statutory process and make an application to Scottish Government so it is unlikely that car parking charges and the decriminalisation of parking enforcement would be formally introduced before autumn 2020.
Brodick shorefront is set to have parking charges for the first time. 01_B24parking01