NORTH Ayrshire’s Councillors unanimously agreed to pass a motion which called for the compulsory purchase of the car park in New Street, Stevenston.

Last week at the meeting of full council, members agreed to pass the motion which could eventually see the car park open on a full-time basis but it was warned that the process could take up to two years.

But following on from the meeting, council officials met with the owners of the car park and this was described as ‘productive’.

The Herald told earlier this year that the car park would be closing after nearly two decades serving the town and a stalemate between North Ayrshire and Europe and Jersey, the owners of the car park.

Two of the local ward councillors addressed the decision to move forward with the CPO and Labour’s John Sweeney said: “The unwillingness of the car parks owner to hold reasonable negotiations meant that the Council had no other option but to pursue a CPO, first proposed by me back in May.

“From day one my focus has been on getting the car park reopened whilst protecting the public purse. A CPO will ensure both will happen.

“The CPO process can take time but in the meantime the car park remains closed. My message to the owner is simple - work with the council to secure an early resolution and reopen the car park now. Your tenants and other nearby businesses are being affected by your closure as are local residents, with a CPO getting the unanimous backing of the council how long this takes to resolve is in your hands. Let’s not have the car park closed for a day longer than necessary.”

Cllr McTiernan said: “I am delighted the council has accepted my call for the car park to be subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order. The car park is an essential facility for Stevenston and since the current owner closed it, local shops have reported a severe impact on business.

“There is no other available car park in the town centre, so it is absolutely essential we secure the facility for local people. I won’t have the Stevenston public held hostage to the profit margins of a private company, and I’m glad the full council agreed.”

“Even at this late stage, there is still scope for the private owner to see sense, re-open the car park and enter into meaningful negotiations with Council officials. However, if that does not happen, then we need to act quickly to secure the facility for the Stevenston public through a Compulsory Purchase Order.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We had a productive meeting with Mr Johnstone, of Europe and Jersey, which owns the car park in Stevenston.

“Following on from the positive discussions, we are now examining a range of options and will look to have further discussions with Mr Johnstone in the near future.

“Although the council has agreed to a Compulsory Purchase Order, we are committed to engaging with Europe and Jersey to reach an amicable solution.”

A spokesperson for Europe and Jersey said: “We met with representatives from the council and the discussions were useful but it is now up to the council to come back in the the they wish to go forward.

“Europe and Jersey waits to hear back from North Ayrshire Council.”