Hopes have been raised an overhaul of car parking in Moray’s biggest town will lead to a boost for town centre shops, despite an objection from a leading business group.
Yesterday, changes to charges in the centre of Elgin were approved by councillors ahead of a public consultation.
The decision could lead to the implementation of a £2 per day charge at the railway station and fees being introduced in Cooper Park from 8am to noon.
During the talks, council leader George Alexander stressed it was time for the authority to “bite the bullet” in an attempt to ease parking woes in the town.
Elgin’s business improvement district opposed the changes with a 10,000-strong petition and local councillors Graham Leadbitter and John Divers voted against it.
However, John Cowe, chairman of the council’s economic development committee, believes town centre firms could get a boost from the changes.
He said: “I know there was huge public opposition to this but we need to do something to stop people just dumping their cars and blocking spaces.
“What we’re going to do is try it for a year, see if there are any issues, then look at it again.
“I think it was common sense to bring Batchen Lane down to £1 for a whole day. That’s a huge car park right in the centre, it could bring a lot of people in.”
During yesterday’s meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee, Mr Alexander dismissed concerns from Mr Divers that commuters are swamping streets near the train station as “anecdotal”.
And last night, the Elgin City South councillor revealed he was “bitterly disappointed” at the decision.
Mr Divers said: “This was brought forward to deal with the issue of on-street parking but I think what we got was a money-making exercise.
“Those of us who live in Elgin know exactly what happens round the train station. Commuters park in the neighbouring streets then residents can’t get spaces when they return after work.”
Mr Leadbitter added: “On-street parking issues in Elgin have barely got a mention despite the fact this was one of the main reasons for the review in the first place.”
The new fees could come into force in April next year following a public consultation.