A proposed plan to charge motorists £1 a day to use Park and Ride car parks at Ferrytoll and Halbeath has been given the go ahead.
The new traffic regulation order was approved by members of both South and West Fife and Cowdenbeath Area Committees, who say the £1 a day charge will help to offset some of the running costs of the facility.
The Ferry Toll Park and Ride complex, currently costs Fife Council approximately £210k per annum to maintain and operate and the Halbeath Park and Ride complex costs around £180k per annum.
This includes general maintenance; non-domestic rates, heating the waiting areas; cleaning of toilets; and electric vehicle charging points.
Changes to the current Traffic Order will also see more yellow road markings introduced, to cut down on illegally parked cars causing obstructions and allow fines to be issued for illicit parking in disabled bays.
Councillor Andrew Verrecchia, Vice-convener of South & West Fife Area Committee said “While we understand that the introduction of a £1 per 24 hour charge will be unpopular, it is important to realise that the income will go only part way in offsetting the overheads.
“We do not want to deter use of what is an exceptional facility, and both the Park & Ride at Ferry toll, and at Halbeath, will remain a very sustainable travel choice for travellers.
“Fife Council can no longer afford to wholly bear these significant costs.”
But Cowdenbeath Conservative councillor, Darren Watt, said the Fife Council Conservative Group was “disappointed, if unsurprised” at the decision, adding that there had been 285 objections to the plan
“I think it was a spineless and cynical move to implement charges at the park and ride facilities,” he said, “especially as these are in isolated areas with no alternative parking options and no real alternative way of getting to them other than by car or bus.”
Once the new ticket machines are in place customers will have the option to pay at ticket machines or via the RingGo service by phone or the internet.
Cllr Altany Craik, Convener of the Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning & Transportation Committee said: “The Council incurs huge costs each year including non-domestic rates, electricity and maintenance to operate these facilities and we need to introduce ways to help reduce our costs.
“Like all local authorities across Scotland, we face significant budget shortfalls over the next few years and as a result tough budgetary decisions must be made.
“Whilst ideally we would like to keep the facility free, it is just not possible and we need to help to balance the books.
“The proposed £1 daily fee is simply a service charge to use the high quality parking and waiting facilities. The charge will help to offset some of the running costs, however, the Council will still incur significant expenditure to operate the facilities.”
Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay Councillor Dave Dempsey, who leads the Conservative Group, hit out at the plan, saying: “It was clear that, despite their obvious misgivings, all the SNP and Labour councillors had been instructed from on high to ignore public opinion and plough on with the process for introducing charges.
“At a time when we’re exhorting constituents to take part in Edinburgh Airport’s consultation of flight paths, it’s particularly ironic for councillors to ignore the Council’s own consultation.
“We should pay tribute to those members of the public who took the time to reply instead of consigning their responses to the waste bin.”
“The meeting in Inverkeithing heard cryptic comments about looking again at these proposals.
“We can only hope that common sense will prevail in the long run and that Fife Council won’t go ahead with penalising motorists for doing what the Council wants them to do and not taking their cars south over the bridge.”