Politicians welcome U-turn over Fife park and ride charges

Inverkeithing Ferrytoll  Park and Ride
Inverkeithing Ferrytoll Park and Ride

Politicians have welcomed news that a controversial bid to charge motorists £1 per day to use park and ride facilities at Ferrytoll and Halbeath is to be scrapped.

Fife Council will put a Plan B before councillors next week after Stagecoach intervened and expressed its concerns.

But opposition councillors say charging will only drive more traffic into nearby towns, and criticised the local authority for not listening to communities.

The issue provoked huge debate when the £1 charge was first mooted, with Tories in west Fife leading a campaign to have it stopped.

The council argued too many people were using the park and ride facilities as cheap alternative parking when heading to Edinburgh Airport to fly out on holiday – and wanted to use the income from the modest charges to offset future running costs.

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Stagecoach’s intervention sparked a re-think as the bus company helped to shape a draft alternative which will be put before councillors next week.

Local Tories, however, said the council didn’t do its job properly and work with the bus company and organisations.

Cllr Darren Watt, who represents the Cowdenbeath ward, said ““I am incredibly pleased to say that it appears the £1 daily charge proposals at our park and ride facilities has been scrapped!

“From the very start my Fife Conservative colleagues and I emphasised the financial impact this would have on commuters and the potential knock on effect it would have on our roads and infrastructure.

“We fought this all the way and it looks like our efforts have finally paid off.

Cllr Watt described the decision as “nothing more than an embarrassing U-turn by the SNP/Labour administration” adding: “They failed to effectively work with partner organisations and they refused to listen or acknowledge any of the objections or concerns raised by the public and arrogantly pressed ahead aiming straight for the pockets of commuters.

“This whole proposal has been a complete waste of everyone’s time and caused nothing but worry and anxiety for those who rely on the service.

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, welcomed the news.

He said: “Three quarters of all public transport journeys are taken by bus, and it is essential that we encourage more people to use public transport to tackle congestion and improve air quality – charging people for the privilege of using a park and ride facility was never going to achieve this.

“The proposed imposition of park and ride charges at Ferrytoll and Halbeath was unnecessary and unfair and I’m pleased that Fife Council appears to have come to its senses and will reverse its decision.”

Councillors on the assets, property and facilities committee will next week consider a proposed agreement, between Fife Council and Stagecoach East Scotland (SES), which will provide an alternative to the £1 daily parking charge.