At the River Community Council meeting last Wednesday night Cllr Tom Heggie made reference to parking charges in other areas in Highland, he mentioned Lochaber, Fort Augustus, Aviemore, Inverness and Portree.
Well one thing that comes to mind immediately is the level of tourists that visit these areas. In some instances possibly hundreds of thousands more each year than we get in Nairn. On this point the Gurn received the following comment from “Rita Meter Maid” which sums up the difference between Nairn and these areas. Here it is:
“This discussion and report reveal the inadequacies of the Council's policy proposals. The figures from a Council official quoted by Cllr Saggers are theoretical or notional. They represent only a tiny fragment of the financial picture. They are meaningless in relation to Nairn.
The costs and income from the very different existing chargeable car park bays around Highland, from Inverness city centre to Fort William to Aviemore, will vary wildly depending on local circumstances and, crucially, the availability of alternative options.
The critical requirement is to carry out a rigorous local impact analysis. The Council has to develop realistic models for calculating costs and forecasting revenue (both best and worst case scenarios). The policy proposals also have to identify consequential effects.
Such prior study is essential. It's not rocket science but it requires serious work. There is no evidence that the Council has done such homework in the three targeted localities. Nairn does not have a serious parking problem at present. Charging will create one. Even if only on Council-owned sites, charges will produce a damaging chain reaction or domino effect since the natural reaction of all drivers, visiting or resident, will be to look for alternatives. So...
- there will be increased pressure on the so-called Common Good parking areas (which will lead to calls for charges there);
- more cars will park in the 'free' customer car parks such as the Co-op, and the High Street banks. This will force them to introduce costly controls, surveillance, clamping or fines (as has happened in Elgin);
- more people will then look to park at the Community Centre, around Viewfield, on the grass at the Links, or anywhere else there is space, causing a management and access headaches for those venues;
- cars will be parked in adjacent side streets and residential roads, adding to hazards and congestion there and leading to extra overheads for warden-enforcement;
- shoppers will eventually give up and opt for (free) parking at Sainsburys and the proposed Home Bargains instead, further damaging local High Street retail. And visitors will just drive on to other destinations.....
So Cllr Heggie is right to call for realism. The hard evidence already available from the real world, in Angus and many other places where charges have been imposed, proves that parking-fee schemes are counterproductive. All these consequences are predictable. All will involve extra costs. All will reduce the mythically optimistic income predictions made by Council officials. All will be seriously damaging to the town and the local economy.
Our Councillors, the BID, and the local community need to mobilise now to prevent this stupidly misconceived policy from being implemented.”