AN EXASPERATED councillor has spoken of his frustration at repeated breakdowns of a barrier at Largs' seafront car park, branding the situation "Groundhog Day".

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch, who sought the introduction of a new seafront barrier system last year at a cost of £60,000, told the News that the barrier was not working again on both Saturday and Sunday after fault issues meaning that people could park in the seafront bays for free. 

The barrier was then left up to allow people to get out of the car park after the fault developed.

The seafront car park revenue is ringfenced for Largs local projects - including paying off the loan for the current controversial £300,000 refurbishment of the seafront toilets. It has paid for a number of developments over the years including the Mackerston swing park, and skate park.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Cllr Ian Murdoch is concerned car park is missing out on vital revenueCllr Ian Murdoch is concerned car park is missing out on vital revenue (Image: Newsquest)

Ian, who opposed the seafront toilets £300,000 investment, said: "The seafront car park barrier was up on both Saturday night and Sunday - people are able to leave the car park paying for nothing. This is happening far too often it and it losing a considerable amount of money.

"The whole point of bringing the barrier in last year was because it had been losing a considerable amount of income and this was done to try and make it more efficient but it has not been happening."

The matter was also discussed at the recent Largs Community Council meeting.

It was initially asked at the meeting if the car parking charges would go up to help cover the costs and increase the flow.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Largs Community Council Largs Community Council (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr Tom Marshall said: "We will need the car parking charges to go up as they are ridiculously low."

Community councillor Jamie Black agreed that putting the fares up seemed reasonable given the big tourism numbers coming to the town.

However, Ian Murdoch pointed out that the difficulty is how could the levy be increased if the seafront car park cannot provide a reliant service due to the ongoing breakdowns issue.

He said: "Until we get it operating correctly and efficiently then we can charge more - it is a cheek charging a fiver for it just now for over three hours' use."

Community councillor Patricia Perman suggested bringing an employee in with a hut to take the payments as an alternative.

Cllr Ian Murdoch suggested that one solution might be to dispense with the car park infrastructure and instead introduce pay and display when decriminalised parking comes into play - with car number plate recognition which is available at the privately run car park behind M&Co, and is to be introduced at the new Marks and Spencer Foodhall car park when it is built later in the year.

Decriminalised parking is due to come in later this year which will see council wardens replace police in upholding parking restrictions in the town - with the power to impose fines for illegal parking transferred to North Ayrshire Council.

This council car park operates a ticketless automatic number plate recognition system.

On your way back to your car – you have two pay options: Option 1 - drive to the exit to pay by card only, screen will display parking charge, and Option 2 - at the pay station, enter your registration number, the screen will display your parking charge.

Motorists then drive out with registration number captured on exit and barrier will open.

The parking tariff is up to 1 hour - £1, up to 3 hours - £3 and over 3 hours - £5

Income generated from the car park is used to help support community projects, events, and services in the Largs area.

North Ayrshire Council has been approached for comment.