A PRESS reader has come up with a £65,000 saving he thinks could stop the introduction of charges at West Fife’s park and ride facilities.

After members of the South West Fife area committee agreed last week to a traffic order that would bring in a £1 daily fee at the Halbeath and Ferrytoll locations, James Urquhart alerted the Press to a Freedom of Information enquiry he made to Fife Council.

“Councillor Alice McGarry was looking for £210,000, she should look at the parking department. In 2016/17 it cost Fife Council £677,573 to collect £612,723 in fines,” he revealed.

“I would suggest that the £210,000 could be easily found, as currently they are losing £65,000 in that department alone!

“Do away with it and you will have £677,000 to spend on fixing some of the roads in Fife.”

However, Fife Council’s lead professional for parking and public transport infrastructure management, Tony McRae, said the figures quoted by Mr Urquhart didn’t take into account the £3.1 million revenue which was generated from paid-for-parking across Fife last year.

“The purpose of the parking enforcement regime is to ensure people park responsibly and legally thus creating a safer environment for all users of the road network and car parks as well as ensuring people pay in charged areas,” he said.

“The enforcement also encourages the proper use of car parks and limited waiting areas to ensure a sufficient turnover of parking spaces is achieved to further attract people into the town centres.”

Fife Council’s economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee convener, Councillor Altany Craik, told the Press that the parking charges were being introduced reluctantly.

“I appreciate there might be money to be collected from fines and I would be interested in finding out why that is not being collected,” he said.

“The size of the non-domestic rates is £260,000 so £65,000, while it would be welcome, it certainly doesn’t change the fact that the council is under huge financial pressure and has been for the last five years,” he said.

“While people may think that it is inconvenient to have to pay a small charge towards meeting some of these costs, it was not a decision that was taken lightly.

“Every year we had this decision and we have got to the end of the road. We cannot keep doing this without an alternative. It is not something we are happy with. This is coming from the Scottish Government and Westminster Government.

“People need to remember that we have done really well in managing the impact of cuts but we have eventually run out of savings.

“It is not ideal and we have been trying to avoid it. If we found a solution even now going forwards, then that would be something we would pursue.”