CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce town centre parking charges in North Ayrshire have been put on hold again by councillors.

The cabinet on Tuesday noted the three petitions against the introduction of the charges in selected car parks, after protesters claimed it would hugely hamper the town centres owing to the cost-of-living crisis.

But they remitted the final decision on the plans to a meeting of the full council on February 15.

Council leader Marie Burns said: “The original decision to progress decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) was taken by full council, the decision to raise the proposed charges for DPE was taken by the full council at the last budget meeting last year and in September the decision was taken by full council to go ahead with DPE but to ask for this paper to be prepared so that we might consider those charges.

“All these previous decisions were made by the full council, so I am recommending that we note the three petitions.

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“The other recommendations for addressing local concerns included the introduction of resident parking permits and the removal of Bradshaw Street in Saltcoats from chargeable car parks. There’s also an option of what charges should apply and these should go back to the full council.”

A motion was proposed at the full council meeting last September that, in view of the pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis, the introduction of these measures should be paused and a further review of the impact of these measures on residents and local businesses should be undertaken. 

However, following a division and a roll call vote, council agreed that ‘in light of the deepening financial crisis’, a proposal be brought to cabinet to reconsider the level of charges proposed in the 2022/23 budget.

Petitions objecting to the introduction of car parking charges were received from businesses and traders in Kilwinning, Irvine and Saltcoats citing that in their opinion the introduction of car parking charges would have an adverse impact on local businesses and that this may result in the closure of a number of small independent businesses in the towns affected.

The petitions were heard by the audit and scrutiny committee in November, and these were upheld and referred to cabinet for consideration.