A leading business group in Moray’s biggest town is urging firms to join forces to fight changes to car parking fees.
The council wants to overhaul the price for spaces in the centre of Elgin to make best use of the car parks.
But, the town’s business improvement district (Bid) believes firms could be “threatened” if the new rules are passed.
Yesterday, the proposal to reduce charges at the Batchen Lane multi-storey car park to a daily rate of £1 was hailed as a “great idea”.
However, concerns remain that increases to other locations could drive shoppers away.
A petition has now been launched by the group to halt the introduction of the new rates. Last night, the campaign had been backed by nearly 400 people.
Bid manager Gill Neill believes the pilot scheme which introduced free parking after 3pm for Christmas had proved a success in previous years and should have been rolled out.
She said: “We know the council is facing challenging economic circumstances, but we simply ask businesses are not disadvantaged.
“Pressure continue to grow, from out of town developments and new rules on pensions and rates increases – times are tough and this will not help.
“If parking charges are increased, then it does threaten businesses.”
According to the proposals, fees at some car parks will double from £1 to £2 for one-hour stays in the town centre and other sites will go up from £2 to £3 for four-hour stays.
However, new 50p rates for half-hour visits are also proposed.
Charges could be introduced for the first time in Cooper Park and at the railway station.
Moray Council has insisted the overhaul has been driven to free up spaces for shoppers, increase the use of multi-storey car parks and cut down on motorists overstaying.
But Richard Cumming, director of Sirology, believes drivers will turn to residential streets instead of paying the extra fee.
He said: “Making Batchen Lane £1 is a great idea, so is making it 50p for half an hour.
“The problem is all the workers will take up the cheaper spaces in the morning before the shoppers come in.
“This is going to end up with more people parking and blocking driveways on residential streets because people won’t want to pay the new rates.”
The proposed rates will be agreed at a future meeting of Moray Council’s policy and resources committee.