A LARGS businessman says it will take 'years' for the Bellman's Close car park to pay its way - with only 15 spaces initially available to the public.

John Corrigan has accused the council of wasting £55,000 in a bid to tackle the parking problem when Barrfields offered a cost neutral solution.

It comes after over 80 businesses signed a petition calling for a car park at the site two years ago.

His calls come after the News submitted a Freedom of Information request to North Ayrshire Council to ask what was paid for the land at Bellman's Close.

It revealed Lounge owner Stephen McDonald received £55,000 for what will become a pay and display facility. There are currently 15 parking slots available, with two reserved for 41 and 43 Main Street.

Despite the long-term plan to resurface and redesign the car park and increase capacity to 20 spaces, same charging system as the seafront car park - with one hour - £1, three hours - £3, and over three hours - £4, means it will take years to simply pay for itself.

Mr Corrigan added: "It's a token gesture to address the problem - and not a cost-effective one."

The Deli il Cardo owner believes the only solution for local businesses is to re-energise the campaign for a car park at Barrfields.

He said: "The infrastructure is all in place at Barrfields, which could also accommodate bus tours, something local businesses have badly missed.

"The council spent £55,000 on the Bellman's Close site but there are other associated costs. They still have to tarmac it and the signage, as well all the legal fees involved.

"And on top of that, some of the spaces are not available to the public. It's just not good value for money.

"We keep hearing these initiatives about trying to regenerating town centres because of Covid-19 but where are the customers going to come from if they can't get parked?"

Cllr Tom Marshall, who was the steering force behind the development, said "It was essential that the council acquired the site for car parking. If we didn't it would have been lost and could have gone to the erection of buildings. It is not operational as yet as the council is awaiting delivery of the pay and display machine.

"Most of these car parks pay for themselves within 5-7 years and thereafter it is positive income for the council.

"When the decriminalised parking comes in, it will free up a lot of spaces in Largs town centre and businesses will need to find their own places to park. I am not convinced that building a big new car park at Barrfields will solve the problem.

"The seafront car park normally has a net annual income of £140,000 which equates to about £1,000 per car space. Logically one can argue that the 15 cars parking spaces at Bellman’s Close would generate at least the similar figure if not more.

"The annual income would be £15,000 and so the purchase cost of £50,000 would be recovered within four years. There is obviously some extra expenditure at present in laying out the car park, but that will not be very much

"If we had not purchased this area it would have been turned into a block of flats or something similar."