Green light for new Oban parking charges


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Oban’s new parking charges have been given the nod by councillors, including drivers getting the first 30 minutes free, but also charged on Sunday afternoons.

Changes will also give the first two hours free in Ganavan, Longsdale and Lochavullin car parks, but all three will be year-round pay and display. New parking meters will also be installed where drivers will have to punch in their registration.

The Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee met on Wednesday to decide whether to implement Argyll and Bute Council’s draft parking plans, called a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), in light of objections raised by the public in a consultation.

The council’s proposals, for both on- and off-street parking in Oban, were passed by six votes to two, defeating SNP councillors Julie McKenzie and Jim Lynch’s amendments to a local hearing of the objections in full. Plans for more disabled parking were also passed, with a slight amendment from councillor Elaine Robertson to move one bay on Croft Road defeated by five votes to three.

The changes include turning Ganavan car park from seasonal to all-year charging, and Longsdale and Lochavullin car parks from free to year-round pay and display. While the first two hours’ stay will be free, Sunday charging will be introduced from 1pm to 6pm, alongside the usual 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.

Blue badge holders do not need to pay for parking, and can park in any bay for an unrestricted period, apart from a marked disabled bay with a signed time restriction. The Corran Halls number one car park will remain seasonal, Mossfield remains free and, further afield, Fionnphort and Luss car parks would convert from seasonal to all-year charging.

The off-street changes received 32 objections, ranging from the cost of an off-street parking permit being ‘too expensive’ and the potential knock-on effect to residential streets, to urging the council to match the three hours free at supermarket car parks, and to use cashless parking and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).

The council responded that publicly-owned car parks are not allowed to use ANPR, and a cashless parking trial in Helensburgh, if successful, will be rolled out across other Oban and Dunoon, where there is data signal.

The draft TRO also proposed, for on-street parking, introducing the first 30 minutes free to bays on George Street, Corran Esplanade, William Street, Queens Park Place and Argyll Square, with standard charges applying thereafter.

But it also introduced parking charges on Gallanach Road (sailing club to Brandy Rock) and Ganavan Road (from Glenrigh to the war memorial), applying Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm and on Sunday between 1pm and 6pm, which will also apply to all existing pay and display bays. Residents’ permits will be available at a cost of £95 per year £35 per three months.

These proposals received 22 objections, including concerns that residents would have to pay for on-street parking which is currently free, and that the 30-minute free period would be too difficult to enforce. Objections were sometimes contradictory, with one opposed to Sunday charging, and another that Sunday morning should be free.

The council stated there are no current plans to introduce business permits for on-street parking, but there will be a review of its parking management at the end of 2018. If there is an increase in parking on residential streets, then further TROs could control any negative effect.

Committee chairwoman councillor Elaine Robertson remarked there was a shortage of car parking in Oban, to which traffic and development manager Stuart Watson said officers were looking into turning the fire damaged Millpark depot into a car park.

The new parking meters, with a keypad to put in vehicle registrations, have been ‘used successfully in an off-street car park in Helensburgh’.

Argyll and Bute Council received requests to introduce new disabled bays on Drimvargie Road and Kerrera Terrace, which attracted no objections, and on Croft Road (Longsdale Crescent), which drew six, and 21 letters of support. This was passed five votes to three.