CAR parking charges could be introduced in Alloa in the next few years, despite previous opposition by traders.

A paper coming to Clackmannanshire Council's meeting of elected members will tomorrow, Thursday October 24, outline plans for a Special Parking Area (SPA) under Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) powers.

The move was first mooted last year as part of the local authority's consultation on budget cuts and was met by firm resistance by shopkeepers who launched a petition to nip the idea in the bud.

Some said such charges would turn Alloa into a "ghost town".

There should be some reassurance, however, in that concerns will be addressed as provisional plans account for up to 100 free short stay spaces for shoppers and potentially free parking at weekends altogether.

The plans have nothing to do with the workplace parking levy legislation approved at Holyrood, but come under DPE powers which the council will have to apply for from the Scottish Government.

As documents for tomorrow outlined: "With the withdrawal of the traffic warden service by Police Scotland, the enforcement of parked vehicles has reduced to almost nothing."

An SPA scheme would allow the local roads authority to enforce both on-street and off-street parking with a single policy for the whole of the county.

Provisions in the new Transport (Scotland) Bill will place a duty on the council to enforce pavement and double parking in either case, so the creation of the SPA will allow the local authority to address that.

Adapting the plans is "operationally desirable, but would need substantial financial input", according to council papers.

The documents added: "Even accounting for the revenue that could be achieved from the issuing of Penalty Charge Notices (PCN), there is no business case that shows that the scheme can show a surplus..."

Council papers added that the scheme would require an investment in the region of £167,000 for set up costs, with ongoing subsidies of £50,000 per year.

"These figures are solely to cover the DPE operations and do not include costs of setting up and running a charging strategy," the documents stated.

Council papers argue the parking charges would allow the scheme to be financially self-sustaining, labelling it as a "traffic management tool and not a revenue earner".

The plans would also support the local transport strategy in restraining traffic growth and encouraging active travel while complementing government measures like the ones on climate change.

The SPA would include a mix of short, medium and long stay car parks, with the idea that the latter would be relocated further from the core town centre.

If approved by councillors, preparations for applying for DPE powers could take around nine months with a similar timescale to actually introduce it, meaning any charges are a year-and-a-half away at least.