Angus motorists have had a mixed reaction to new parking charges which have come into force.
Off-street parking across the Angus Council area, previously free, is now charged at £1 an hour.
The charges are administered through eco-friendly solar-powered ticketing machines which do not accept cash. Parking can only be paid for with a debit or credit card, or by mobile phone.
The charges have been introduced at 33 off-street public car parks in Carnoustie, Arbroath, Forfar, Kirriemuir, Brechin and Montrose, charging a maximum of £4 a day. Drivers can also purchase permits costing £260 for a year or £130 for six months.
Angus Council say the charges will generate £700,000 a year that can go towards public services.
However, locals in Carnoustie who spoke to the Tele say they are not so sure of the benefits.
Business owner Julie Beattie, 46, of J’s Hair Design on Dundee Street, fears the charges will scare off shoppers, having a negative impact on local trade.
“I live in Arbroath and I have to drive in because the bus times don’t line up with my working hours,” Julie said.
“We’re open five days a week and I park up a side street, but I would be paying £20 a week or £100 a month, which is more than £1,000 each year. Even if you purchase a permit, the council can’t guarantee you’ll get a space.
“The council aren’t thinking about small businesses. I’ve got customers from Fife and Dundee and if they’re here for a three-hour colour job that’s another £3 on the cost of their haircut.”
Dorothy Donaldson, 75, had to help an elderly woman to work the cashless machine on Links Avenue.
“Imagine putting £1 on your debit card. It’s just ridiculous,” the Barry resident said.
Local worker Sally Jackson, 32, was also among those trying the new machines for the first time.
She said: “I used to work in Dundee and paid about £10 a day so at least it doesn’t cost as much out here.
“I can see why they’re doing it – it might encourage people to take public transport or walk and I might do that on some days.
“Links Avenue car park was full every day. Today there’s basically nobody taking up the spaces.”
The charges apply Monday-Saturday, from 8.30am-5pm. Sunday parking remains free and blue badge holders will continue to park free.
Car parks on Rosemount Road and Elliot in Arbroath and William Street, North Seafront and South Seafront in Montrose are also exempt.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “Angus Council has reintroduced parking charges because we have a budget deficit of £36 million over the next three years, despite saving £45m and significantly reducing the size of the council.
“We’re sorry that it is not a popular move as we have had free parking for 20 years but we have to start charging for services where and when we can if we are to return a balanced budget.
“Our neighbouring authorities also charge, so Angus is just coming in line with them. Like any new system it will take a bit of getting used to, but it is a simple cashless system.
“People can either pay online, using their smart phones or with their card directly at the machine.
“We’re sure people will get the hang of it quickly and if they have any difficulties they can contact our ACCESSline for help and support.”