THE council will begin the process to introduce parking charges and enforce offences in the Wee County following agreement by elected members last week.

A full business case will be developed for town centre traffic management across the whole of Clackmannanshire before the local authority applies for powers from the government under Decriminalised Parking Enforcement.

While councillors agreed to begin preparations at last Thursday’s meeting, October 24, it is understood a fully developed case will return to the Kilncraigs chamber for a final decision further down the line.

Proposals arising from a feasibility study are for a mix of short, medium and long stay car parks with “up to 100” free spaces retained in the town centre of Alloa to encourage visitors to come in.

The council argues a parking strategy and enforcement scheme is necessary after Police Scotland withdrew traffic wardens. Furthermore, the new Transport (Scotland) Bill will place a duty on local authorities to run the rule over pavement and double parking.

Staff will begin preparing a parking management strategy that includes the option to fund enforcement through charges and the local authority will also be in a position to issue penalty charge notices.

It could take around nine months for the council to prepare an application for powers to decriminalise parking offences and around the same time to fully introduce the scheme.

Council documents said enforcement can be financially self-sustaining with a “structured charging policy for town centre on and off-street parking”.

However, the local Labour Group, led by Councillor Dave Clark, sought to remove the parking charges element in an amendment during the meeting with the intention of ruling them out.

The group leader did say he supported the principles laid out in the paper to make sure parking is brought under control in the area.

The move was branded “pointless” and a “political stunt” by the SNP’s Cllr Craig Holden.

It was pointed out the move ultimately did not rule out charging for parking as a funding option and Cllr Les Sharp argued there would be no business case to put forward without charges when applying for powers from the government.

Illustrating why enforcement was necessary, council leader Cllr Ellen Forson highlighted the current parking situation in Alloa, saying disabled spaces are often taken by able-bodied drivers and people are parking on double yellows.

Conservative Cllr Martha Benny echoed her words and argued enforcement of parking will enhance town centres and help businesses by making sure people are not parking illegally all day.

Others, including Mr Sharp and Cllr Jane McTaggart also argued a parking strategy will improve trade by providing a better experience for shoppers who drive.

Cllr Kenny Earle abstained, but all others voted to begin preparations for decriminalised parking enforcement in Clackmannanshire.