Business leaders in Moray have called for a £1 all-day parking charge to be rolled out elsewhere after its introduction was the catalyst for a huge upturn in a multi-storey.
The council shook up prices in Elgin last year in an attempt to free up spaces while encouraging shoppers into the town centre.
In the process, they gained a £155,000 boost compared to the previous 12 months, nearly double the £79,000 initially budgeted for by the cash-strapped authority, leading to accusations that the motorists parking in the town were being used as a “cash cow”.
The Batchen Lane multi-storey had the biggest increase despite its cost being slashed from up to £4 per day to just £1. Yesterday, there were calls to repeat the price drop elsewhere.
However, council leader Graham Leadbitter said there were no plans to review the pay and display rates, explaining that the extra income would be used to fund maintenance to the sites and roads in the area.
Richard Cumming, chairman of Elgin’s business improvement district, said: “What would all the car parks be like in Elgin if they were £1? I think they would go the same way as Batchen Lane.
“Personally, I would like to see £1 across all council-operated car parks in Moray. We can all see the effect cutbacks have had across the region, so surely a fairer revenue-making scheme should be spread across Moray.”
Other changes to Elgin’s parking included fees rising at every site except Lossie Green and Lossie Wynd and charges being introduced for the first time at three locations.
Last night, Mr Leadbitter described the changes as “fairly positive”, despite having fears when they were first implemented about the effect on neighbouring streets.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
He said: “Footfall in the town centre seems to have picked up in the last year, which could be an obvious link to the car park changes. There are fewer empty units which is no doubt also pulling people in to shop in Elgin.”
The town is currently the only place in Moray where there are charges to park. However, the council agreed to examine rolling out fees to other town centres and popular locations as part of this year’s budget.
Elgin City South councillor John Divers said: “I still believe Elgin is being used as a cash cow. It’s been proven with Batchen Lane that if you lower the cost it leads to more money for the council due to it being cheaper for drivers.
“We should be looking to do the same elsewhere to ensure people park appropriately and not block spaces on side streets.”