Renfrewshire Council is to carry out an impact assessment for new parking changes that are to be introduced in Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone.
Last week, Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board passed measures to introduce new parking charges at council-owned street parking bays, as well as car parks in Johnstone and Renfrew. Residents and business owners in Johnstone appear to be strongly opposed to the new measures.
Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of the Board, has pledged to listen to concerns from local communities and businesses. She said that the results of the impact assessment will be taken into consideration when moving forward with the changes.
Johnstone Business Consortium, who met last week, echoed concerns raised in last weeks Johnstone Community Council meeting, that the changes will harm the town by driving shoppers away to places like the Phoenix Retail park and Braehead.
The Council stands by their idea that the review will help attract more shoppers and visitors to the three towns and increase the turnover of parking spaces.
Labour Councillor John Hood for Johnstone South & Elderslie, said: “After speaking to local businesss, Johnstone Community Council as well as local people I am convinced this is a bad idea for Johnstone. I am sure the people of Johnstone will be voicing their opposition to this ridiculous proposal. I will be doing everything I can to support them.”
Cllr Andy Doig, whose ward covers parts of Johnstone Centre said he was concerned over the lack of clarity at what Cllr McEwan is proposing.
Councillor McEwan, said: “As part of the implementation of the changes to parking in Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone, an impact assessment will be carried out with the results taken into consideration moving forward.
“We will listen to our local communities and businesses to ensure that these changes will make a positive difference in our town centres to the benefit of the local economy.
“The changes to current parking provisions are designed to generate a turnover of short stay parking spaces, allowing visitors the opportunity to utilise spaces which may currently be taken up by long stay parking, and bring more shoppers to local businesses.
“We have also made a commitment to invest and modernise the parking facilities across the area, including enabling parking meters to accept a variety of payment methods, which will make it significantly easier for visitors to park in spaces across Renfrewshire.”
Independent Councillor for Johnstone North, Andy Doig, said: “I am very concerned over the lack of clarity over what is actually being proposed here and what does not help is that the SNP minority administration is trying to face two ways at once on the controversial question of car parking charges for Johnstone.
“Firstly there is the position of the recommendations that were passed, only on the recommendation of Cllr McEwan as Convener of the Infrastructure, Land, and Environmental Services Board, at the meeting of 8th November 2017. These minutes make it clear that car parking charges will be introduced in Johnstone and Renfrew for the first time in 2018/2019, no ifs, no buts. Yet the minutes have been amended to talk about an impact assessment, this is where Cllr McEwan descends into the realm of JK Rowling with talk about an impact assessment being carried out with the results being taken into consideration moving forward.
“Perhaps I am confused and not the SNP administration, but usually consultation takes place before the decision has been taken, not after, as in the case of the ill-judged decision to introduce car parking charges in Johnstone. There is not a shred of hard evidence that this anti-business decision will make a significant difference to the coffers of Renfrewshire Council, but there is plenty that it will beggar and bankrupt the commercial sector of Johnstone town centre as has happened in Paisley.
“This week I attended a meeting of the Johnstone Business Consortium where 60 local traders and businesses made clear their opposition to this backward step, my message to my former SNP colleagues is please listen to the voice of Johnstone, drop this plan and drop it now.”