Inveraray fees threaten Covid recovery, say traders

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Business owners in Inveraray have described the council’s latest move to introduce year-round parking fees to the town as ‘bewildering’ during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the third time in five years Argyll and Bute Council is proposing to make a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to introduce charging to Inveraray car parks all year round, as opposed to the current summer charging system.

Inveraray Community Council has confirmed it will object to the plans.

A similar move in 2016 sparked objections and ended with the TRO expiring after two years with no decision.

In 2019, a fresh TRO sparked more than 200 letters of objection, in a campaign led by Inveraray Community Council, many of which cited the fact that no investigation had been carried out on the impact on tourism and claiming it would be an additional ‘tourist tax’ for Inveraray.

The current 2021 draft TRO is in the early stages of consultation, but it states that all-year fees would apply in the Avenue, Fisher Row and Front Street car parks ‘to align the Inveraray charging structure to the council’s other off-street car parks’.

Off-street car parking at the Avenue south, Community Hall and outside Inveraray Jail would remain free of charge, but would be included in the order to allow parking control.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘The main aim of Traffic Regulation Orders is to manage traffic flow, support the local economy and protect our town centres from inappropriate parking.

‘We haven’t progressed TROs recently and will be starting the TRO for Inveraray afresh. Before we move to the public consultation part, we have to contact all statutory consultees and anyone who objected to the previous TRO proposals.

‘Once the new, draft TRO is published, members of the public will have the opportunity to submit their views.’

The Sweeney family operates Dewars Boot Store and and MacIntyres of Inveraray, and Scott Sweeney said: ‘The introduction of year-round parking charges would just be another deterrent for people to spend time in town in the quieter months.

‘We’ve had to endure one of the toughest economic events in history during the Covid pandemic, and have had 10 years of inadequate action from local and national government with regards to the Rest and be Thankful fiasco.

‘We find the decision to consider an introduction of these charges bewildering at this time.’

Inveraray Community Council convener Linda Divers added: ‘The community council will object to the proposals again.

‘After the year we have just been through, it is bad timing on the council’s part.’