Highland Council has chosen the run-up to Christmas to begin work introducing charges and fines in two of Inverness’s most central car parks.
A car parking clampdown has begun at the council’s Inverness headquarters and the city’s Eden Court Theatre.
The financially strapped council reckons sanctions could raise at least £20,000 a year.
Workmen began installing warning signs yesterday as a precursor to the move.
Outside the council’s Glenurquhart Road complex, only councillors and officers will be able to use the bays between 8am and 4pm on weekdays. Those without a permit will risk a £60 fine.
Beyond those times, pay and display will cost drivers £2 for up to three hours, £4 for up to 10 hours or £5 for 24 hours.
There has been a mixed response within the corridors of power. Some councillors were unaware that the regulation was being enforced. Some were unhappy with the prospect while others thought it fair.
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Thomas MacLennan, an MS sufferer and blue badge holder, found it “jarring” to discover that designated disabled spaces were limited to one area rather than dividing them between the various entrances.
His ward colleague Andrew Baxter favours regulated parking.
“I’ve argued privately that it should go further and we provide a resource, for a large contingent of staff and councillors, a benefit that is not enjoyed by many others who work in the city – and charge for a permit or £20 or £30 a year rather than have free permit parking. But that was rejected a couple of years ago,” he said.
City councillor Carolyn Caddick said: “The council are trying hard to generate income but I don’t think the consequences have been carefully thought through.”
Council traffic officer Shane Manning said: “We’re examining the potential enforcement of parking in Eden Court car park to stop anyone who shouldn’t be in the council car park using the theatre’s car park.
“We want continuity across the council, Eden Court and Cathedral car parks.
“We’ve a process to go through to allow us to legally enforce the theatre car park and that’s far from concluded yet.”