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‘Drivers say it’s cheaper to pay the fine’: Fears new car park prices in Elgin will increase illegal parking

Moray Council hopes to bank an extra £414,000 but there are worries the move will encourage drivers into the streets.

John Divers next to busy road in Elgin.
Elgin councillor John Divers believes drivers will take to the streets to avoid the increased charges. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

New prices have come into force in Elgin car park amid concerns the increases could drive a new wave of illegal parking.

Moray Council approved the increased rates to bank an annual projected £414,000 as its books become more and more squeezed.

But business leaders fear the move will instead hit workers in the pocket with the cheapest daily rates doubling in price.

Although one-hour prices have been reduced to £1, a cheaper 50p for a quick half-hour trips has been removed completely.

The local authority has pledged to keep the “tricky issue” under review while attempting to save £15 million over the next two years.

Do you think the new car park prices in Elgin are fair? Have your say in the comments below. 

Fears new prices will increase illegal parking in Elgin

The increase in car park prices in Elgin comes amidst growing concerns about illegal parking throughout the town centre.

During just five hours last month the Press and Journal witnessed 17 drivers parking on double yellow lines, 14 parking on pavements and 29 staying more than three hours in 30-minute bays.

Poster saying "leaving your car here is nae dandy" with picture of Dandy Lion.
Dandy Lion has fronted campaigns against illegal parking in Elgin. Image: David Mackay/DC Thomson

Moray Council currently has no powers to enforce parking outside the pay and display car parks while police say they’re usually too busy to issue tickets.

The few drivers who have received fines have reportedly told officers they are willing to risk a fine to dodge the parking charges.

Elgin City South councillor John Divers, who is a director of Elgin’s business improvement district, said: “Police officers have told us that when they have given people a ticket it’s cheaper for them to take the fine than pay for parking.

“I’ve long argued that when you increase the charges the usage goes down. We had the opposite at Batchen Lane, when we decreased the charges the usage went up.

Illegal parking on Elgin High Street.
There are already illegal parking concerns on Elgin High Street. Image: David Mackay/DC Thomson

“I don’t think it makes sense to increase the charges when we’re only looking at having a usage rate of about 51%.

“Increasing the charges might generate more money, but it will also encourage people to park in the streets and give us a bigger problem with illegal parking.”

What are the new Elgin car park prices?

  • Lossie Green and Batchen Lane car parks increased to £2 per day from £1.
  • First hour will now be £1 across all other Elgin car parks, reduced from £1.50.
  • Previous 50p rate for 30 minutes has been removed.
  • Cooper Park remains free for first 30 minutes.
  • Railway station remains £2 per day.

‘New car park charges will hit workers in the pocket’

Moray Council has stressed it discussed parking charge changes with police, the fire service, Visit Moray Speyside, UHI and local businesses.

It says proposals to make the first hour free were “not financially viable” while attempting to balance community concerns about parking.

Council leader Kathleen Robertson described the new prices as still “a bargain” when compared with Edinburgh, where it can cost £20 per day to park.

Sarah Medcraf at North Port parking sign.
Sarah Medcraf, chief executive of Moray Chamber of Commerce, fears the increases are pricing out workers. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Moray Chamber of Commerce has acknowledged the local authority’s financial predicament, but says it has instead passed the burden to town centre workers.

Chief executive Sarah Medcraf said: “Your average worker in Elgin High Street has just lost over £250 a year due to a doubling of the low usage car park fees.

“We need to be encouraging businesses of all sizes into our town centres and employees are carefully choosing their next employer based on the full package which will include parking location and cost.

“Standardising the first hour is helpful to eliminate confusion for visitors and residents alike, but it still puts a barrier up to those who are looking to pop into town for a short time.”

One every three minutes: I ‘hand out’ £10,000 in fines in just one day in Elgin as I hit the streets as a traffic warden