Dec 14 2012 by Colin Rutherford, Kilmarnock Standard
Plans to end free off-street parking in Kilmarnock town centre on Saturdays have been scrapped.
Councillors last week rejected a proposal by East Ayrshire officials to reintroduce Saturday parking charges from February.
In a report to last week’s meeting of the council’s cabinet head of roads John Bryson argued that the move as necessary to maximise income to fund roads maintenance.
The meeting heard that continuing the free Saturday parking trial could cost the authority as much as £135,000 a year.
Mr Bryson said that while Kilmarnock Retail Traders Association had voted the pilot scheme, introduced in April, a success, feedback indicated that there was a concern that free all-day parking could result in spaces being taken up by workers and all-day visitors, at the expense of shopper.
SNP Councillor Jim Buchanan, who spearheaded the free parking experiment, said that, when he had first read the report, he had regarded it as positive.
He told the cabinet: “When I got to the recommendations, I couldn’t believe it.
“I was surprised and disappointed.”
Councillor Buchanan said that the council was spending £20 million on the regeneration of Kilmarnock town centre and needed to give retailers as much support as possible.
He was backed by council leader Douglas Reid who said: “I think the benefits we have heard of from retailers are very positive.”
The cabinet also agreed to go ahead with consultation on a residents’ parking permit scheme in Kilmarnock.
Councillors heard that an initial survey found that 58 per cent taking part in an initial survey backed the proposal.
However, only 43 per cent would be prepared to pay around £25 for a permit.
The parking plans will be considered, along with other budget proposals, at a full council meeting today (Thursday).