CHARGES will NOT be introduced at select car parks throughout North Ayrshire after a tight vote by councillors.

Elected members finally reached a decision on the controversial plans following a heated discussion this afternoon (Wednesday, February 15).

Three town centre car parks in Irvine were earmarked for the scheme had the plans gained approval (Kirkgate, West Road and East Road), while Almswell Road and Oxenward in Kilwinning would also have been subject to charges.

Vernon Street, Windmill Street and Kirkgate in Saltcoats were also due to be affected.

At today's meeting, councillors again debated the pros and cons of the move which has been in the pipeline for almost four years.

Petitions from local businesses and residents attracted thousands of signatures and urged the council not to introduce charges as part of the decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) scheme.

The petitioners claimed that the plans would have 'accelerated the demise of town centres'.

Seventeen councillors voted for an amendment put forward by Councillor Donald Reid calling for no charges to be brought in, while 15 supported a motion by Councillor Tony Gurney for £1/hour fees at the nine car parks (including Gateside Street in Largs).

An additional £600,000 worth of savings will now have to be made as part of the upcoming budget - with Cllr Reid's amendment proposing increased charges for advertisement on council assets and repayment of a social care debt to make up the shortfall.

DPE will allow the council to enforce parking rules in the area rather than police and the idea was first proposed for the whole of North Ayrshire in June 2019, and backed by the full council in September of that year, before the Covid pandemic put the plans on hold.