CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce charges at railway stations have been ‘parked’ by Fife Council following a public backlash.
The council has been looking into the move, which would see parking fees brought in at key stations including Leuchars.
Drivers would be asked to pay between £1.60 and £2.40 per day in the hope it would help combat the disparity between supply and demand for parking — as well as creating a revenue stream for the council amid severe budget pressures.
The plans were due to be rubber stamped at a committee meeting this week, but the item was pulled from the agenda to allow further discussions to take place.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Labour councillor Pat Callaghan, executive spokesperson for transportation, said: “What’s being suggested are measures to help manage the parking spaces we’ve got available and I am supportive of this approach.
“At some of our train stations there isn’t enough parking to meet the needs of commuters and other passengers.
“But, as the facility is free, some people use spaces even when they’re not travelling, or leave cars longer than they need to.
“Introducing a small charge should help deter people who don’t need to park in these places.
“Although legitimate users would then need to pay, they stand more chance of finding a parking space to pay for.”
Other stations affected by the plans include Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Inverkeithing and Rosyth, as well as the Ferrytoll park and ride.
Councillor Callaghan went on: “Of course introducing charges would create a small revenue stream for the council.
“And, after the cost of running a charging scheme was covered, the remainder would be used to fund much needed road and transportation improvements.
“We’re suggesting introducing charges where there are none and where it makes sense to have them, but not increasing parking charges across the board given the economic challenges facing town centres already.”
There is a legal process to go through before charges could be introduced, plus a public consultation.
But the plans may not get that far following the decision to refer them to a council policy advisory group.
Cupar’s SNP councillor Karen Marjoram has led a campaign against the proposals since they were revealed last week.
She started a Facebook group condemning the charges and has been distributing leaflets at affected stations.
Welcoming the decision to put the move on hold, Councillor Marjoram said: “To bring in parking charges, when people are already feeling the pinch with the rise in public transport fares and fuel costs, beggars belief.
“For example, bringing in a parking charge of between £1.60 and £2.40 at Ferrytoll park and ride is just bringing back bridge tolls by the back door.
“Quite how bringing in these charges will make things better for Fife, I just don’t know.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also hit out at the plans.
He said: “Travel to and from work by train is costly enough without lumping an extra £40 a month in charges for parking at Fife train station car parks such as Kirkcaldy and Leuchars.
“At a time when rail fares are increasing and household budgets are being squeezed this really isn’t a wise move.
“Liberal Democrats want to give people the incentive to use the train to tackle congestion on our roads and reduce harmful carbon emissions.
“These insensitive parking charge plans are out of kilter with opinion in Fife and should be rejected.”
Council leader Alex Rowley confirmed the plans would be subject to ‘detailed consideration’ and ‘widespread consultation’ before they are brought back to committee.