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Free After 3 parking scheme to run again in Elgin this Christmas

The St Giles shopping centre in Elgin.

A festive parking fees reprieve for late afternoon shoppers in Elgin will run again this year. 

However, at a meeting today members were told to stop “sniping” at each other during discussions about the Free After 3 car parking scheme.

Councillors were debating whether officers should deal with the scheme at St Giles car park in future years, without the need for a report to come back to committee. 

It has been running for several years and offers free parking in the multi-storey after 3pm from the day of the town’s Christmas lights switch on until the first Saturday in January inclusively.

The estimated cost to Moray Council is up to £2,500 a year.

At the economic growth, housing and environmental sustainability committee meeting Conservative councillor for Keith and Cullen Donald Gatt said: “I’m in two minds about this. 

The CCTV cameras in Elgin town centre located on the High Street/Commerce Street. Picture by Jason Hedges

“People will park at Lossie Wynd all day for £1 and walk into town and spend considerably more on parking in Inverness and Aberdeen 

“This is another delegated decision going to officers and this is a decision that should remain with councillors.”

Party jibes

Labour councillor for Elgin South John Divers jibed that the Tories were supposed to be the “party of business” as he put forward the motion to provide free parking at St Giles and allow officers to oversee the scheme in future years. 

Mr Gatt replied that the Conservatives were not responsible for wasting money, adding Elgin was a “bustling market town” 30 years ago before the centre was pedestrianised.

He tabled an amendment removing the recommendation allowing officers delegated powers for Free After 3.

Legal services manager Aileen Scott stepped in to remind members to abide by committee rules and stop “sniping” at each other. 

SNP councillor for Keith and Cullen Theresa Coull said: “The reason for Free After 3 is to encourage people to come to Elgin and shop in Elgin and stop them going to Aberdeen and Inverness. 

“It’s a scheme to get folk to spend their money locally.” 

Elgin is the only town in Moray where motorists have to pay for car parking. 

Members voted by seven to three to introduce the the parking scheme from November 20 this year up to January 1, 2022, and to delegate powers to officers in future years, unless there is a change in circumstances.

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