Free weekday parking for up to three hours could soon be available in selected Paisley town centre car parks – if plans for a pilot scheme are approved by councillors later this month.
Proposals have been drafted to test the impact of a partial removal of parking charges – to help inform future decisions over parking in the town centre.
If given the green light, the pilot would run for six months from July and see three hours of free parking on weekdays in five town centre car parks – at Weighhouse Close, Hunter Street, Orchard Street, School Wynd and Oakshaw.
Currently, parking is free in all Paisley town centre council-owned bays and spaces at evenings and weekends, but charges apply from Monday to Friday during the day.
The recommendations have been made by the Paisley Town Centre Parking Working Group – which was formed earlier this year and includes councillors, business groups, private car park operators and public transport representatives.
The proposed pilot scheme was created after a request from town centre business improvement district Paisley First, who sit on the working group.
The aim is to generate the data needed to allow the potential benefits to town centre traders to be measured against the financial and logistical implications for the council and private car park operators – which will then be fully evaluated before next steps are agreed.
As part of the pilot scheme, parking charges would be reintroduced on Saturdays – apart from in the five car parks named above (where the free three hours would still be available) and on the ground floor at Renfrewshire House in Cotton St, which would remain free all Saturday.
The reintroduction of Saturday charges was agreed by the working group to discourage people from parking for free in Paisley and travelling by train to Glasgow – and will free up spaces for people visiting local businesses.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The issues surrounding parking in Paisley town centre are complex – but we are keen to work with businesses to find solutions that work for everyone in Renfrewshire.
“A historic town centre with a wide range of uses and users will never be able to offer the same ease of parking as out-of-town development designed around the car.
“We want to bring new life to Paisley – which we are doing through our £100m investment in venues and outdoor spaces and successful major events programme.
“That extra footfall will not be delivered by free parking all day, as commuters and workers who are in town anyway would fill the spaces – but time-limited free parking is an idea we are happy to test.
“But there will be a financial cost. Town centre parking brings in considerable revenue which goes into the services we provide to all Renfrewshire tax-payers – and what is being proposed will also require investment in new modern parking meters.
“We need to be able to measure the hoped-for benefits against those financial and logistical costs – and the proposed pilot is designed to let us make an informed decision on what we do in future.”
Councillors on the leadership board will be asked to consider the scheme when they meet on Thursday 19 June as part of a detailed report which reveals the following:
– there are more than 2,100 car parking spaces in Paisley, 1,250 of which are council-controlled, plus hundreds more free spaces on the edge of the town centre;
– the income from on and off-street car parking in the town centre is worth around £1m a year to the council;
– for any Free for Three scheme to work, new modern parking meters are needed – these will require drivers to enter their vehicle registration to stop them moving from one free car parking location to another after three hours. For the proposed pilot, this will cost around £30,000;
– a new Traffic Regulation Order would be needed to change on-street parking arrangements, and this would take up to a year – so the pilot has to be restricted to car parks rather than streets;
– the five car parks in the pilot total 186 spaces, around 15% of the council’s off-street total;
– it is predicted the proposed pilot will cost the council around £200,000 lost income and this will need to be met from within existing resources.