A parking charges row within Highland Council has re-ignited after a Lochaber councillor claimed information being used by the local authority was “clearly incorrect”.
Andrew Baxter told a packed chamber at council HQ the policy should be “killed off.”
He said the council did not appear to have accurate information about the sites proposed for charges.
He added: “What confidence can we have when we’re told that 149 sites [in the region] are suitable, but then 22 of these are removed from the list for different reasons, including their size and ownership.
“The information being provided by officers is clearly incorrect.”
Mr Baxter insisted that savings targets, in the region of £500,000 projected by the council from income generated by car parking, were based on false assumptions.
He said: “I can see this very carefully and cleverly-created policy falling apart, and it will be Fort William and Inverness again where officers will be knocking on the door telling us the amount they had forecast coming in from extra car parking charges hasn’t materialised, so they will have to put up our charges again.
“We saw free car parking permits for residents in the long-stay car parks removed overnight, with no say over that.
“My greatest fear is that the whole of this policy will collapse, we’ll see virtually nothing coming in from other areas and Fort William and Inverness will carry on merrily paying a substantial amount into the council coffers.”
The council’s depute leader Alasdair Christie agreed car parking was “a tricky area.”
He said: “It’s about changing culture, changing the way we do things, it’s about giving a local share of income and managing car parks in a different way.
“I think Councillor Baxter has over-exaggerated the situation, however it is a difficult, complex area to bring in policy.
“In some areas, it’s going well, in other areas it probably needs pushed along a bit.
“Because Highland is so large and diverse, different solutions have to be found in different places so that everyone can buy into it.”
The council agreed a new off-street car parking policy last October which is going ahead as scheduled.
A council spokesman said: “We are currently in the early stages of implementation with pre-engagement with statutory consultees and key stakeholders.”