Stiff opposition to more parking meters in St Andrews town centre

Parking meter.
Parking meter.

CONTROVERSIAL proposals by Fife Council to instal extra parking meters in St Andrews town centre have run into stiff opposition.

The local authority’s transportation services has lodged individual planning applications to relocate three existing meters and instal four supplementary pay and display machines in the central shopping area.

However, St Andrews Community Council and the conservation pressure group, St Andrews Preservation Trust, are unhappy at the plans and the former has lodged a strong objection.

When the present £1.5 million upgrading of Market Street is completed later this year it will see the end of all charged parking on the north side of the thoroughfare and, as a result, three ticket machines will be permanently removed.

Council officials maintain that at certain locations within the town centre, the walking distance to the nearest meter can be excessive and - in order to make them more accessible - propose to relocate the three redundant machines from Market Street and instal four additional ones, all at new sites. This will result in a net increase of four meters, raising the total number from the current 28 to 32.

The required meters will be sourced from two currently in stock from the initial 2008 purchase, while three will be re-used from Market Street, and two new machines will be purchased at an approximate cost of £6000.

It is planned to instal three machines in South Street and one each in Queen’s Gardens, Greyfriars Garden, North Street and St Mary’s Place.

A spokesman for the community council told the Citizen: ”The machines would result in additional clutter in the town centre and further impact on the outstanding conservation area.

“The cost of removal and relocation of meters from the north side of Market Street and the two currently held in stock is unknown. However, the proposed cost of £6000 for two new meters is considered unnecessary given the current economic situation.

“If voluntary organisations or residents had suggested that the walking distance between parking meters was ‘excessive,’ it is unlikely that this view would have been sympathetically received. We do not believe that this is a viable reason for providing extra meters.”

Meanwhile, the Preservation Trust has expressed “regret” at the further proliferation of ticket machines in St Andrews.

A trust spokeswoman said: ”There is already far too much street furniture for such a small town, and these applications only serve to increase this.”

In 2008, amid a storm of protest, the solar-powered parking meters were installed in St Andrews town centre at a cost of around £110,000 to replace the previous voucher system.

Controversy had dogged the project with numerous objectors, while one local resident even mounted a legal challenge against their introduction.

Penny Uprichard sought a judicial review of the decision at the Court of Session, claiming the meters clashed with the historic town’s architecture and unique character and said the application should have been referred to Scottish Ministers.

However, her legal challenge failed after the judge, Lord Brailsford, ruled the council had acted properly and said there were no grounds for a judicial review.

Fife Council originally proposed 38 meters, but this was scaled down to 28 smaller machines by the time planning permission was granted by a majority at a meeting of the North East Fife area development committee in May of 2008.