Angus councillors have stressed that they have no intention of reintroducing car parking charges to the county.
However, that option still remains open to them.
The council agreed at a recent policy and resources committee meeting that it would take on the role of enforcing parking regulations, planning to fine drivers who park on single and double yellow lines, and issue tickets to those overstaying parking limits.
There has been free parking in Angus since 1996, but a business case made to the Scottish ministers for the local authority to stop people parking illegally retains the option for the council to introduce parking charges in the future.
Councillors Bill Bowles and David Fairweather referred the matter to the full council meeting last Thursday (December 10) to have this clause removed.
They lost the vote to banish car parking charges in Angus forever by 21 councillors to six.
The majority of councillors reiterated that they had no plans to reintroduce charges, but council leader Iain Gaul said that not having the clause in there could be a risk to their business case and the question about whether free parking in Angus could remain forever was posed to Transport Scotland.
He said: “The answer that came back was that they expect any parking scheme put in place to be self financing and, more importantly, value for money and as such under the financial situation they expect that any application for decriminalised parking to include charges for parking provision from the outset rather than introduce it at a later date.
“We are all of a consensus that we want free parking in Angus. It’s a benefit to the citizens, businesses and tourists.
“Why would we put our business case at risk? If, for some miracle, Transport Scotland says yes, go ahead you can put in your submission without charging for parking in Angus forever, wonderful. The chances of that happening are absolutely zero.’’
Cllr Gaul said that on his way to the meeting he counted 17 illegally parked vehicles.
Cllr Bowles said that keeping the option to charge for parking was a “separate debate” and proposed that the clause be taken out.
“Some towns sell free parking for a day, we sell that we have free parking all the time,” he said.
Mr Bowles amendment was seconded by Mr Fairweather, who said: “I’m certainly not against us having our own wardens because our roads are in a mess.
“Since 1996, a jewel in the crown for Angus has been the fact that we haven’t charged for car parking.
“If we do put in car parking charges in the future, our residents and our visitors will all go to supermarkets because it will be free.”
Glennis Middleton said: “Nobody is suggesting that we introduce parking charges but what it means is we’re trying to put forward this application in the fullest possible terms so it gets accepted.”
Councillor David May said: “I have regularly complained about Police Scotland’s decision to remove traffic wardens and the effect this has had on our High Street shops.
‘‘People park all day and the effect on our shops has been catastrophic in some cases.’’