Scores of Johnstone residents attended a public meeting to discuss controversial plans to introduce town centre parking charges.

The Gazette previously revealed how proposals by council chiefs to charge motorists up to £2.90 to leave their cars in Johnstone and Renfrew town centres have sparked a furious reaction.

Renfrewshire Council claims the move would bring more shoppers to the area.

But that suggestion has been slammed by both the Johnstone Business Consortium (JBC) and Johnstone Community Council (JCC).

Around 50 people went along to a meeting organised by JBC to discuss the proposed charges.

Also in attendance was Councillor Cathy McEwan, who chaired the board that passed the decision, on her casting vote.

Allan Henderson, JBC chairman, said: “The meeting went really well and we had good discussions with Councillor McEwan, who has taken on board how the community feels about this.

“We will still go ahead with a petition though, so that the views of Johnstone people are made clear.

“The consultation period has begun and will last for around three months.

“Looking ahead, we will have a public meeting with JCC which we hope will be constructive.

“We are determined to make it clear that this is not what the people of Johnstone want and we will fight hard to prevent this.

“The decision can still be reversed and, hopefully, Renfrewshire Council will take all our points on board and realise that this is not a good idea.”

The public meeting being staged by JCC in conjunction with JBC will take place at Johnstone Town Hall on Tuesday, December 5, starting at 7pm.

Tom Wallace, JCC chair, said: “We feel there is a need for those in the council administration to understand how unpopular this decision is amongst the people of Johnstone and within the business community – hence the need for a public meeting.

“Over the last week, I have spoken to a number of Johnstone residents and business people who are totally against parking charges being introduced in Johnstone.

“The general feeling is that, rather than increase the footfall in the town centre, it will do the opposite and decrease it, damaging the businesses community.

“Besides attending the public meeting on December 5, I would urge everyone to sign the petition organised by Johnstone Business Consortium, as the only way to have this disastrous decision overturned is for the people of Johnstone to make their opposition known.”

Cllr McEwan has defended the parking plans.

She said: “The world is changing fast – we need to prepare for electric vehicles and to design our parking scheme to ensure Johnstone and Renfrew are modern, vibrant and thriving towns.

“The public’s views will help refine exactly how we achieve that.”

The petition against the parking changes can be found in shops in Johnstone town centre, with an online petition to be launched this week.