PROPOSED parking charges in Dumfries and Galloway are now off the table in the wake of strong public opposition to the idea.
Councillors listened to their communities, who have been campaigning against the possibility of enforced parking fees, and agreed to ditch the proposal on Tuesday.
At the council’s communities committee, Dee and Glenkens Councillor Dougie Campbell put forward a motion for the council to proceed with creating a regional parking strategy early next year and weigh up decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) options – but to rule out parking charges completely.
He said: “There is massive concern in the Stewartry about the implications, and I don’t think this will ever happen – the parking charges.
“I think that will be the decision in February. So let’s just take it off the table, be realistic, and save officers’ time and effort.”
While residents throughout the region are keen for the council to find solutions to the widespread problems of illegal parking, it has become clear that there is strong public opposition to parking charges being introduced.
Communities in Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright have submitted petitions to the council with thousands of signatures rejecting the idea.
This follow on from an online survey the council carried out of more than 3300 people in the region where 78 percent of respondents were against parking charges being introduced.
Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall said: “Seventy-eight percent of people don’t want parking charges. The majority of councillors, I’m sure, never thought that when we asked for DPE that we’d also get parking charges thrown into the mix.
“The Labour position has always been clear on this. Since 1999 when I’ve been a councillor we have always opposed parking charges.
“And I think most other groups oppose it as well. Certainly the general public opposes car parking charges in any form.”
Steven Herriott, the council’s head of roads and infrastructure, confirmed that public petitions had been received and he acknowledged the strength of public opinion.
Castle Douglas Councillor Pauline Drysdale said she was disappointed that the opinions of residents in her ward were not factored into the council report, despite being raised in time, and called for a fuller report considering all viewpoints to be returned to the next meeting in February.
She also called for each rural town to be considered separately in the parking strategy to “protect shops and businesses”.
Councillors agreed to receive a further report in February to consider a draft parking strategy and draft DPE options report but with parking charges excluded.