JUST four weeks after the Press launched a campaign to scrap Sunday car-parking in Dunfermline town centre, councillors have called for a review to be carried out.

Members of the City of Dunfermline area committee agreed a motion asking for a report to look at the charges and their impact, along with the option of removing them.

It will also look at other key shopping days when fees could be removed to encourage more residents and visitors to shop locally.

The Press’ Keep It Free campaign calls for the council to get rid of the fees, encouraging more people into the town centre on a Sunday to boost the High Street.

Councillor James Calder, who raised the motion, told fellow councillors that the Sunday charges had been a “universally unwelcome addition” to Dunfermline since it had been brought in.

“Businesses feel they act as a deterrent to shoppers coming into Dunfermline on Sundays, a typically quiet day compared to Saturdays,” he said.

“Dunfermline residents feel this is an additional charge that they must endure, making it a less attractive prospect to shop in Dunfermline. 

“My question is this – should we as a council do as much as possible to help local businesses, local employers thrive? Or should we instead use car parks as a cash cow, even if it is damaging our local economy?

“Other similar-sized towns and cities do not have Sunday parking charges. Perth is a nearby example and, indeed, over December, they did not have Saturday charges.” 

Cllr Calder said he agreed with a call from Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman for the study – made in the Press last month – into the impact of Sunday charging.

He added: “As councillors, we need to balance financial constraints that we face with the economic consequences of council policies. So I am not proposing to unilaterally remove the charges. We must take an evidence-based approach.

“We need to see the figures, the hard evidence. As Mr Chapman has said, we need a study, a report brought back to councillors. Let’s see the impact of the charges on the local economy. This will give us the chance to make a decision free of emotion and based on evidence.”

Cllr Fay Sinclair welcomed the review.

“Although I agree with the sentiment, at the moment, it is not in the area committee’s powers to remove car-parking charges; therefore there needs to be a devolution of that power to use it to make local decisions locally,” she said.

“I believe in decisions being made closest to where they will impact people.

“Decisions made about Dunfermline should take place in Dunfermline so I think it is right to be able to look at local circumstances and decide on car-parking charges.”

Councillor Ian Ferguson said a review would be the “first step” in getting the situation corrected.

“The Sunday parking charge has raised £50,000 for Fife Council and overall, in a year, there was £800,000 raised in Dunfermline from parking charges,” he said.

“All that goes to Fife Council. It doesn’t stay within the Dunfermline area so there is no benefit to us from having parking charges at any time. It goes into the central pot. We subsidise the rest of Fife with our parking charges. That feels wrong.”

Area committee convener Councillor Helen Law was pleased to see the motion get cross-party support.

“Sunday car-parking has been controversial, however, it has been difficult with council budgets – no-one wants to take this difficult decision. Key to this issue is the decisions about Dunfermline need to to be made in Dunfermline.”