Bed and breakfast owners in Inverness have erupted in fury over the negative business impact of the north’s new parking enforcement scheme.
Guests staying in Kenneth Street and Greig Street are being forced to move their cars by 8am in the morning to avoid fines, then return for breakfast before walking hundreds of yards back to their cars with luggage.
Many who arrive in the afternoon to check-in have to wait until 6pm to park near their place of stay to avoid a ticket – and often struggle to find a space.
And guesthouse owners in the area say they are restricted to one visitor parking permit per household, and that buying extra “business” permits at £176 each would cost about £1,000 a year to cover all guests with cars.
A paper petition to change the scheme’s operating times – from 8am-6pm to to 10am-4pm – has so far drawn 27 signatures.
Since the local authority’s parking enforcement scheme went live in October last year, a total of 4,461 tickets have been issued in Inverness.
Kenny MacKay, who runs the nine-bedroom Melrose Villa in Kenneth Street, said the new wardens should exercise “more discretion,” and that the council should consider allowing visitors to display notes on their windscreens telling parking officers when they will leave.
Mr MacKay, who has run his guesthouse for 12 years, said:”My question to the council is, where are we supposed to move our guests to at 8am? At the moment they are parking at Tesco, which is up to two hours, but they (Tesco) will soon catch on.
“We are up in arms about it. I am feeling like they are trying to put us out of business. The next thing is we will be getting bad reviews on Trip Advisor, and this might stop guests from returning. Some people will get fed up because there is no parking so it will have a massive effect. I would say 85% of my guests come in cars.”
Arafeh Alashi, who runs the Quaich guesthouse in Greig Street and started the petition, said he was “furious” after one guest was handed a ticket recently while parked outside as he was shown in to drop off his luggage.
Steve Bowsher, who runs Acer Glen bed and breakfast in Greig Street, claimed his guests received as many tickets in the first week of the new restrictions as he and his guests did in the previous three years.
He also suggested that Sunday restrictions be cancelled, more parking be created where there are double yellow lines, and no parking officers be employed during major city events such as the Etape Loch Ness cycle.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said the council’s parking management team are “actively engaging” with stakeholders on a live review of parking in Inverness, and have met with Inverness BID to discuss the review of the current capacity in the city centre.
A report will be presented to a future City of Inverness Area Committee for members’ consideration on the outcome of the review.
The review is considering a number of factors among existing city centre parking including, for example, parking capacity and any needs for general amendments to the existing regulations.
The spokeswoman said: “The review is also looking at the length of the parking enforcement hours, times of day, and days of the week.”
All of this is being carried out while the roll out of parking enforcement continues throughout the rest of the region.
The spokeswoman also said that the council makes dispensation for tourism-related businesses as they can purchase additional visitor parking permits for their premises, adding: “Businesses should contact the council’s Parking Enforcement Management to discuss any issues that they may have.”