Shoppers and traders in Ellon are set for a major boost through changes to parking charges.
Aberdeenshire Council has devised a range of new parking initiatives across the North-east after public consultation which will now go through the formal process for adoption.
In Ellon, pay and display car parks will have 30 minutes free parking in the town.
Free periods of parking as well as changes to charges have also been proposed for Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Oldmeldrum and Inverurie.
The public and key stakeholders will be asked for their views on the changes, which have been developed over the last eight months.
SNP spokesperson on Infrastructure Services Councillor Rob Merson (Ellon and District) said: “The council needs to use what powers it has at its disposal to assist small businesses and make our town centres attractive for shoppers.
“Allowing a period of free parking is an important part of that. By doing so, I hope that shoppers will be encouraged to use town centre traders.
“This is a very welcome decision which was backed unanimously by councillors across party lines on the committee.”
The 30 minutes free parking policy, which is also set to be introduced in Inverurie, prevents cars from returning for two hours after the end of the parking.
The council hope that this will stop drivers parking for more than the free period by repeatedly displaying tickets as well as help ensure turnover within busy car parks.
Under the new plans the council will also change Pay and Display charges.
Currently Pay and Display parking costs 60p for 0-1 hours but the council intend to change that to a charge of £1.20 for 0-2 hours.
Removing pay and display machines within the council’s four country parks would also be trialled, seeing a voluntary system installed.
This would allow the public to provide a donation which would help with general upkeep costs of the parks and may encourage more use of the facilities.
Ellon and District SNP Councillor Richard Thomson said that introducing free parking for certain periods of time was one of the key promises to help town centres contained in the Aberdeenshire SNP manifesto at the last local elections.
Mr Thomson said: “This is very good news, which I’m certain will be welcomed by shoppers and traders alike. Hopefully, this will encourage more people to use our town centres and support the important services that they provide.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Gillian Owen said that Ellon car parking charges have been a cause for real concern since she was elected in May 2007.
Mrs Owen said: “I am delighted after a number of years campaigning for 30 minutes free parking that this has been agreed by the Infrastructure Service Committee along with a number of other recommendations.”
“I am sure the residents of Ellon will be as delighted as I am that their views have been taken into account.
“I hope that this item on the Infrastructure Service Committee will glide through with unanimous support from all.”