North Lanarkshire Council is to start charging people for off-street-parking in seven of its town centres.
Following a feasibility study the Policy and Strategy Committee last week agreed to introduce a payment scheme for the use of its car parks in Airdrie, Bellshill, Coatbridge, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth, Motherwell and Wishaw.
A council spokesperson said: “A comprehensive feasibility study was carried out to inform decisions on introducing charges in council-owned, public car parks in North Lanarkshire.
“This study included surveys of the current usage of town centre car parks, evaluation of charging schemes in other local authorities, and the impact of drivers parking elsewhere in the streets around car parks.
“It also assessed the costs of introducing and running a charging scheme and the potential income to the council.
“On Friday the Policy and Strategy Committee agreed the recommendation to progress proposals to introduce off street car parking in seven towns.”
The scheme will operate Mondays to Saturdays with charges of: 80p up to 1 hour; £1.20 up to 2 hours; £1.60 up to 3 hours; £2.00 up to 4 hours; and £4.00 for 5 or more hours.
It is estimated this will cost around £1.1 million to set up, and generate a net income of around £407,000 a year.
Until now the council had always refused to introduce parking charges, but council leader Jim Logue says it is now necessary to help balance the budget.
He said: “Up to now members have refused to introduce car parking charges, but as times become more challenging and the block grant reduces, we have to look at all the options.
“I think introducing charges for any service which was hitherto free will always generate negative engagements and I fully understand why residents would say we’re asking them to pay more council tax than even before and seeing a reduced level of services; but there’s a broader context and to find a balanced budget, everything has to be looked at.
“The majority of Scottish councils have introduced parking charges and we’re in a single-figure minority who haven’t – the overwhelming driver in this scheme is that it could generate revenue.”
Charges cannot be made in park and ride facilities because of the funding arrangements in place with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.
Cumbernauld Village was also under consideration to receive parking charges, but following detailed discussions between Councillor Claire Barclay and council officers it was removed from the proposal.
Councillor Barclay said: “I’m pleased the council listened to my request after I consulted with the public, local businesses and the community council, listening to their concerns and issues around the effects the parking charges could have on The Village.
“Cumbernauld Village is not your typical main street and has businesses and services that mean that a quick stop is not suitable.
“The Village needs help to make it easier for people to use its wide range of services and introducing parking changes would drive people away, in this case common sense has prevailed.”