After their recent successful bid to dramatically inflate car parking charges at Arrochar, Argyll and Bute Council are seeking to introduce fruit machine style parking meters at Helensburgh’s largest car park.
The council, led by a majority coalition comprising of Conservative and Lib Dem councillors, rejected both an SNP motion and a community petition calling for a limit to the price rise at Arrochar. Instead, it is hoped that the unprecedented 800% rise will be a tourist gouging cash cow for the council, who refuted claims that drivers would take to parking in narrow local streets to escape the charge.
With that arbitrary price of £9 in place for a day’s parking in the village car park, which has no facilities, council leaders are now keen to press on with their ambitious plan for Helensburgh’s pier car park.
However, rather than simply increase the fees, the intention is to install elaborate play-to-win machines in place of the traditional parking meters. A council spokesperson explained that drivers would insert a coin, then spin the wheels of the machine in order to win an unspecified amount of parking time.
“Drivers could potentially win a whole day’s parking for a pound.” The spokesperson told the Adviser, “Or, if they’re especially unlucky, they might end up paying a fiver for as little as half an hour. That’s the least they’ll get in return though, so, technically, everyone’s a winner.”
We spoke to one local driver we saw by the swimming pool, counting the change in his palm beside a machine that’s regularly out of order.
“They’re going to do what?!” Brian (who asked us not to publish his surname) remarked when we told him of the council’s parking puggies. “That seems ridiculous but, really, the only reason I’m parking down here is that I’d rather pay through the nose than fiddle with entering my reg number into the machines in Sinclair Street car park. That’s just a faff!”
It’s not yet clear how much money the new machines will raise for the council, but it is thought that the cash could potentially fund the ambitious HASA spaceport launchpad project.