THE Three Councillors who represent Stevenston are calling on a local car park owner to rethink his decision to close it to the public.

Councillors Davina McTiernan, Jimmy Miller and John Sweeney expressed cross-party support for the New Street facility to be re-opened to the public.

And North Ayrshire Council say they have spoken to the owner to try to reach an agreement which would see the privately-owned car park open again and they say that discussions will continue with a view to agreement on the terms by which the council could intervene.

But the owner of the car park said that discussions have been brief and that he has been willing to discuss the issues with councillors for nearly a year to no avail.

Councillor John Sweeney said: “Unfortunately, we have no control over the car park – it is wholly owned by Europe and Jersey Estates.

“I have received numerous reports from constituents about how they have been badly inconvenienced by the closure. It is particularly hard for older and disabled residents, some of whom can no longer go to the shops in Stevenston because they are having difficulty finding a nearby parking space.

“I have spoken to local shop owners too and there is no doubt that the decision is affecting their trade.”

Councillor Jimmy Miller said: “We all want to find a solution which not only works for both sides but, more importantly, the members of the public who have been left with limited parking facilities in Stevenston.

“We are doing everything within our power to try to get the car park open once again – that must be the priority.

“As an act of good faith, we are urging the company to re-open the car park while negotiations are under way.”

Councillor McTiernan said: “I have been in contacted by numerous constituents concerned about the detrimental effect of this car-park closure on both Stevenson residents and local businesses. I have had a number of meeting with Council officers, in the pursuit of a resolution. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have this matter resolved for my constituents.

“The Council has produced a number of options which would allow the car park to re-open and satisfy both the public interest and the company.

“I very much hope that Europe and Jersey Estates are willing to compromise and that the people of Stevenston can use the car park sooner rather than later.”

Ken Johnstone of Europe and Jersey Estates, who own the car park, refuted the claims of North Ayrshire Council and said: “We have received two calls from Caitriona McAuley from North Ayrshire Council. The first was to find out what we were seeking and the second was to see the implications to North Ayrshire Council surrounding capital and annual costs.

“They have further attempted to speak to us but we have not spoken to anyone and are not aware of any proposals, certainly not multiple options.

“At no time have I had any contact from local councillors.

“It should be noted that Europe and Jersey Estates started these discussions in April of 2017 by writing to the Estates and Legal Department to try and have negotiations but there has been no contact and they were told it would be closed.

Through your paper we facilitated the pre-warning of closure and there was still no contact, the first contact from the council was on February 21st.”

As part of the planning process, it is normal practice for new commercial developments to provide appropriate parking to serve their development.

Europe and Jersey Estates Ltd signed an agreement in 2000 which provided for such car parking for their development.

The agreement contained an option for the Council to enter into a licence arrangement to allow for the management of the car park, however, this was never taken up.