It’s hard to disagree with the rather understated admission in a council report that ‘parking charges are unlikely to be popular’.
But it’s undeniable that action to sort out the parking in Helensburgh town centre is overdue by at least a decade.
Double or even triple parked cars are a common site on the streets, while some vehicles are at such a rakish angle that they appear to be abandoned rather than parked.
It’s unusual for most car parks in a town to charge while on-street parking is free, and the inevitable result is empty car parks and streets with cars bumper-to-bumper, often left there for several hours or even all day.
Part of the pier car park is free, but the signs which were put in place many years ago make this far from clear and it’s commonplace to see visitors to the town paying when they don’t need to.
So Argyll and Bute’s decision, revealed here, to create 130 new spaces by moving to nose-on parking is welcome – and the promise of consistency across the council’s area will be good news for those who remember when parking was free in Lochgilphead but had to be paid in other towns.
The council hasn’t looked at its car parking policy since 2004, so it is to be hoped that the switch to Decriminalised Parking Enforcement is more than a pragmatic measure.
But cynics are certain to see the potential for the council to increase its income – via fines, as well as tickets.
And if, as promised, parking attendants do indeed ‘patrol the streets of all the towns and villages of Argyll and Bute’ then there could be some nasty surprises in store for drivers in places where traffic wardens are sighted less frequently than Santa.
See also Parking to be decriminalised.