There could be even fewer free car parking spaces in the Aberdeenshire towns of Inverurie, Banff and Stonehaven if councillors choose to extend charging in off-street car parks at next week’s budget meeting.
By extending the number of pay and display areas in the towns, as well as adding paid-for parking spots in communities that are currently free of them, the council could save around £60,000 over the next financial year.
Last September, free parking periods were scrapped in the council’s pay and display car parks throughout the region – previously, motorists were able to park without spending a penny for up to an hour, but now must cough up 50p.
It is just one of a number of potential savings proposals elected members will consider in order to try and save £951,000 in next year’s infrastructure services budget.
Included is the move to start charging electric vehicle drivers for ‘filling up’ at the council’s charging units, which was agreed by members of the infrastructure services committee last November.
Other options that have been put forward as part of the wider budget process includes the use of drones to carry out roads maintenance, flood management and the inspection of quarries in the council area – a proposal that could save the local authority more than £37,000.
By using the technology to conduct inspections of structures like bridges remotely, a report for councillors said it could “reduce the time spent providing access arrangement to get an inspector close enough to the structure to carry out the visual inspection”.
It is also recommended that councillors cut the annual budget for minor flood management work from £150,000 to £100,000.
The report said: “Reducing this funding by £50,000 would reduce the number of projects that could be taken forward.
“This would also see the remaining funding more focused towards property-level protection interventions, rather than in projects to address the root cause of the flooding, particularly in rural locations where small numbers of properties are impacted.”
SNP MSP Gillian Martin, who represents the Aberdeenshire East region, said: “In light of recent serious weather events, it is particularly disappointing that the Tories and Lib Dems are looking to cut £50,000 from our flooding budgets.
“The importance of having good flood management measures in place locally should not be understated, having watched entire communities being decimated by floods in the UK just last month.
“I know also that Inverurie residents and businesses are deeply unhappy about the removal of the half-hour free parking period during the pilot project.
“The proposals to remove further free parking spaces in town centres across Aberdeenshire is therefore hugely concerning and has the potential to put further pressures on our town centres, which support local employment.”