DURING a lengthy and somewhat surreal discussion about town centre parking, community councillors called for Stonehaven’s independence from Aberdeenshire Council – because they are frustrated the 45 minute parking limit is not being policed.
There are two agencies involved in the town’s parking. In the Market Square, it is looked after by Aberdeenshire Council who employ a warden to check compliance.
Meanwhile the streets adjoining the Square have free parking with a 45 minute limit – and this parking is under the purview of Police Scotland.
At last night’s meeting of Stonehaven and District Council, Fountainhall Wines owner Steve McQueen flagged an issue, which he said was to the detriment of residents and his business.
He said: ”Park in your 45 minute bay all day. It doesn’t get policed.
”It is not fair to businesses and not fair to residents if there is a car park where you are having to pay for it but everyone else gets to do what they like and get away with it.
”The idea is you get a turnover of people coming and going but if they can’t get parked then they will just go elsewhere.”
Everyone seemed to agree the Police did not have the resources to monitor parking in the town. Chair David Lawman said other councils were taking responsibility for the policing of street parking. And he recalled Aberdeenshire Council making moves in this direction before Covid.
Decriminalised parking enforcement now on the back burner
Cllr Sarah Dickinson said the local authority had considered decriminalised parking enforcement before the pandemic, but other priorities had since emerged.
”It is a very expensive and quite drawn out process to make it happen,” she said.
”In Stonehaven we have a warden who comes into the town and could police the town centre area.
”But would that work everywhere in the Shire? All I can tell you is every budget is under genuine, colossal pressure so that will affect moving this forward.”
Mrs Dickinson later added: ”Stonehaven is one community in all of Aberdeenshire and the benefits may not be felt elsewhere.”
Cllr Alan Turner, who chairs the Infrastructure Services Committee, echoed Mrs Dickinson’s comments and confirmed the pressure on budgets.
He said: ”There is no easy solution – that is the reality.”
If one size doesn’t fit all …
Jim Stephen was the first to express frustration at a Shire-wide approach. He said Stonehaven was a tourist magnet so had pressures not felt elsewhere.
”We need independence,” he said.
His perhaps jocular suggestion was picked up by Ian Hunter.
He said: ”We need to think how we do things.
”We are hidebound on policy. We should be speaking to other communities. Each individual town in other parts of the world have the right to say how it develops. We have too much centralisation of decisions.”
Mr Lawman said: ”The current model is not working. we need to start looking at different solutions – I don’t know if that comes from Government.”
And he said a delegation should visit the next Aberdeenshire Community Council Forum to seek out the views of other communities.
Mr Hunter concluded a discussion that had lasted as long as the parking stay the members want policed.
He said: ”Necessity is the mother of invention. We have necessity now – we have got to do things differently.”