PAY and display parking in Peebles could be suspended over the festive period in an attempt to attract shoppers to the town.

The temporary suspension, which would come into place on December 1, if approved, would see parking become free at Edinburgh Road, Greenside and Peebles Swimming Pool car parks.

It is thought that temporarily removing meters could encourage more people to return to local high streets ahead of Christmas, and help local businesses navigate current coronavirus restrictions.

Councillors are being asked to consider the proposal and agree to one of four options at a meeting on November 17.

Those four options are: To leave the current parking arrangements in place; agree to the suspension of pay and display parking from December 1 to January 4; agree to a longer suspension from December 1 to March 31 to help businesses with COVID-19 restrictions; or authorise a review of the scope of pay parking, current regimes and charging times.

There are currently pay and display car parks in five Borders towns  – Galashiels, Hawick, Melrose, St Abbs and Peebles.

The proposed suspension must be approved by the executive committee due to the potential loss of revenue for the council.

If the suspension between December 1 and January 4 is approved, the council estimates that it will result in a loss of £7,042 in revenue, with the total cost at £14,691.

Should the longer extension until March be passed, the local authority estimates it will lose revenue of £56,732. 

The total cost of ditching pay and display operations during that period is estimated at £82,782.

An option to retain the current parking regulations has been included, as the initial reason to introduce pay and display parking was “to provide an efficient turn-over of vehicles in key town centre locations and to assist in providing vibrant town centres”.

The pay and display schemes operating in the Borders were suspended at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, but returned on August 10 as part of the council’s phased recovery.

The report on the temporary proposal states that suspending pay and display car parks “is likely to be popular with the general public”, while it will encourage people not to travel outside of the Borders to do their Christmas shopping.