At the River CC meeting in the Community Centre on Wednesday evening the subject of parking charges was on the agenda once again and the Chair, Tommy Hogg, asked Tom Heggie for an update.
Tom Heggie said: “ We wait until the Highland Council meeting in June, that's when the policy, which is part of the policy mentioned here will go to the full Council. There is at present no parking policy, there is a great deal of debate, a great deal of discussion going on and there is at the moment no policy in place so therefore there can be no final decisions or discussion about parking charges per se. In Nairn, which is unique within Highland we have an agreement that there will be no consultation until the conclusion of the BID process which will be balloted in August. Thereafter there is due to be an appropriate consultation process […]"
Tom carried on a little longer on the subject including details of Community Empowerment seminars he'd recently been too.
Liz was the next to speak: “As Tom says the parking policy has been deferred until the redesign group has reached its conclusions. There was a meeting of the redesign group, working group, yesterday where it was discussed in a very heated atmosphere. Carolyn Wilson was saying that they had a petition in Alness where they had 1,100 signatures. I've just picked up today in Nairn, a petition with 1,100 signatures so there is a lot of opposition to the car-parking in its current form. But one of the points that was made very clearly was that the paper that came before the Council that laid out the money that it was going to be raised was flawed.
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There was that many mistakes, for example, they had the two Common Good car parks in. Carolyn Wilson said that in her area in Alness they had a car park identified as having 203 spaces when it just had 90 and there was other areas in there that didn't even belong to the Council that was identified for car parks to raise funds for the Council. So the paper that went to the Council was totally flawed and leaves the Council with a deficit of, is it, 1.4 million?”
Liz then seemed a little unsure of that figure and asked her colleagues if that was correct. She said that the deficit becomes a budget pressure unless they could close it up. She went on:
“At the redesign group meeting, certainly whenever they are discussing car parking there are a lot of people that attend who are not members and I'm one of them and so are several others that turn up and make their case for their communities.”
Tom Heggie then said: “There are other meetings where what Liz is describing is, so there is severe pressure being put on by Councillors across the board so we have yet to see what the outcome of that will be.”
The debate continued with mention from Tom Heggie about the massive debate about the lack of clarity in the initial stages.
Then an interesting intervention from a member of the public Loreine Thomson who stated:
I'll read you a quote from the letter that I got back from Bill Loban and he has signed it as chair or the redesign board and it says. The decision on this saving (that's the one point four million) has therefore already been made by the Council for 18/19 and that the intended consultation is to discuss when and how the charges can be introduced.”
The discussion continued and when time permits we hope to post more and include also technical details about what has to be done with money raised from parking charges revenue which was questioned by another member of the public who seemed to have a remarkable in-depth knowledge of the subject which seemed to surpass that of the three elected members present.
So there we have it folks, Highland Council has got itself into a toxic parking mix and there is obviously a lot of trouble behind the scenes. It's decision time soon for Laurie and Tom, will they lay it on the line and commit to resigning from the administration if the parking charges go through?