A bid to introduce car parking charges to fund bringing back traffic wardens is expected to be rubber stamped by council chiefs next week. 

Proposals have been drawn up which aim to clamp down on rogue parking as well as ensuring a regular turnover of available spaces in short stay car parks.

If approved, the council would take over parking enforcement duties, which would see parking wardens employed to enforce on-street and off-street parking violations.

Car parking charges would then be introduced in a small number of short stay car parks in Irvine, Kilwinning, Saltcoats and Largs and on the shorefront at Brodick – about one-fifth of the Council’s car park portfolio. All North Ayrshire Council long-stay car parks will remain free of charge.

The decision to take forward plans for taking over parking enforcement through applying for the Decriminalisation of Parking Enforcement (DPE) and to investigate the possibility of car parking charges was approved by North Ayrshire Council as part of its Budget-setting process in February 2018.

Since then, the council has been studying how best to manage any parking initiatives, identifying the areas which would benefit from such changes.

As a result, the council intends to decriminalise parking enforcement – this would mean that the power to enforce parking restrictions would transfer from the Police to the Council.

To help support the move to decriminalise parking enforcement, it is proposed to introduce charges in a small number of car parks within the following towns. There will be no charges introduced within any other towns as part of this proposal:

· Irvine – Kirkgate, West Road and East Road. This affects only about 10 per cent of available spaces in Irvine town centre with long stay car parks still free to use.

· Kilwinning – Almswall Road and Oxenward. Long stay parking will continue to be free at adjacent Woodwynd East car park and also at parts of the Oxenward car parks.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Place, said: “We’ve taken a long, hard look at all aspects of car parking across North Ayrshire, considering how residents. motorists and visitors are impacted in every town.

“We believe that the proposals being put forward give us the chance to really open up access to our town centres by ensuring a greater turnover of parking spaces in the identified prime town centre car parks, making it easier for people to park, which will be good for business.

“We want to encourage drivers who are visiting the towns for longer periods, or all day, to park their vehicles in the long-stay car parks which would continue to be free.

“That means we need a local co-ordinated parking enforcement service to ensure we have a sensible and balanced approach to parking in our town centres.

“Currently 21 out of 32 local authorities in Scotland have DPE parking powers in place so we can hopefully learn valuable lessons from other areas to ensure that any changes are introduced smoothly.”

To ensure local residents are not disadvantaged by the proposed changes, the Council will review the potential for resident parking permits in all areas affected.

Councillor Montgomerie added: “By introducing very moderate parking charges in a small number of car parks - starting at just £1 for 60 minutes - we expect a much greater turnover of vehicles, freeing up spaces which would otherwise be occupied all day.

“This should be great news for shop owners, whose customers should get easier access, while shoppers and visitors will have a much greater chance of finding a town centre car parking space.

“In each of the locations where it is proposed to introduce car parking charges, free parking will still be available in the nearby long-stay car parks.”

Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, 11 June, to consider Decriminalised Parking Enforcement and the introduction of Car Parking Charges.

If approved, it is expected that further engagement and consultation will be carried out with local elected members and residents before final decisions are taken. The council must also follow a statutory process and make an application to Scottish Government – it is therefore unlikely that car parking charges and the decriminalisation of parking enforcement would be formally introduced before autumn 2020.