Council gives way on car park fees
East Dunbartonshire Council has scrapped all charges at its town centre car parks in the final run up to Christmas.
Initially, the council had removed charges on Saturdays only for the festive period.
But after an outcry from businesseses, opposition councillors and other local politicians, they have given way - but only until December 25.
The move comes as the area is set to return to level three Covid restrictions on Friday after positive cases of the virus more than halved during level four lockdown.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday the latest figures for the area were 104 in 100,000.
The First Minister said she was “taking a cautious approach”. She added: “Progress can very very easily go into reverse.”
Level four restrictions with all non-essential shops closed and hospitality restricted to take away and delivery only, have been in place since November 20.
Joint Council Leader Andrew Polson said: “Level 4 restrictions have been hard on our residents and on our businesses and I am delighted to be able to announce that as level 3 is reintroduced, we are supporting our businesses and encouraging our residents to stay local and shop local in the final run up to Christmas.”
The co-Council Leader Vaughan Moody added: “I’d also remind everyone that the only way to move from level 3 to level 2 and avoid future further restrictions, is to continue to reduce infection rates.
“The way to do this is to follow all of the Covid-19 measures - and while out and about in our town centres I’d urge everyone to keep to the 2m distancing, observe good hand and respiratory hygiene, and wear a face covering.”
Independent Councillor Duncan Cumming, the SNP group at the council and SNP MSPs and MPs had called for the council to scrap the car parking fees to assist struggling businesses over the holiday period.
Councillor Cumming (Bearsden North) said: “I am delighted to learn of the relaxation of parking charges in the council carparks until Christmas. However, I believe the relaxation does not extend far enough and that it should include the New Year period.
“Local businesses have been badly hit by the pandemic, and they have shown great resilience, determination and ingenuity in the way in which they have adapted themselves, thus ensuring that they can still serve our Community.”
Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay and Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson had also called for fees to be dropped until the New Year.
Ms Mackay said: “I am delighted local retailers and shoppers will benefit from this move to allow free parking. This is, of course, for a temporary period but it is a welcome boost after such a damaging year for businesses.”
Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson added: “Can I congratulate the council for this Christmas present for shoppers, but more importantly for the businesses that rely on customers to keep their business alive during covid19, and I am delighted they have responded well to appeals from my colleagues.”