A CAMPAIGNING councillor wants to see more spaces for cars at Johnstone railway station, instead of the introduction of town centre parking charges.

The Gazette previously revealed that Renfrewshire Council chiefs want to charge motorists up to £2.90 to leave their cars in Johnstone and Renfrew town centres.

However, Councillor Andy Doig, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch as an Independent, insists there is no need for such charges.

Instead, he is calling for an expansion of the car park at Johnstone railway station and has written to Renfrewshire’s representative on Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which is responsible for co-ordinating regional transport, to outline his idea.

Cllr Doig said: “I have taken pictures of semi-empty car parks in both Parkers Way and Quarry Street in Johnstone town centre at 3.30pm on a Friday, so I remain resolutely unconvinced of the case for car parking charges in Johnstone town centre.

“However, there are certain hot-spots in the streets around Johnstone train station, such as Ellerslie Street and John Lang Street.

“To this end, I have written to Councillor Marie McGurk, who is the administration’s representative on SPT, suggesting that she lobby SPT to look at the options of expanding the car parking at Johnstone railway station.

“Given the council pays SPT some £3million per annum, I think SPT should listen.”

Parking charges are already in operation in Paisley town centre, with council leaders keen to expand the “pay zones” to Johnstone and Renfrew.

On weekdays, motorists would have to fork out 40p for 30 minutes, rising to £2.90 for a four-hour stay.

However, the proposals have been met with strong opposition that has seen thousands of people signing a petition which calls on council chiefs to perform a U-turn.

Cllr Doig added: “Johnstone railway station is a key asset for my constituents and those in the surrounding villages also.

“If we are really serious about making it easier for commuters to leave the car and let the train take the strain, both to ease congestion and help the environment, then we need to have the right facilities in the right place to allow this to happen.”

SPT contributed around £1million to the creation of the car park at Johnstone station back in 2014/15, with the project being delivered in partnership with Transport Scotland, ScotRail and Renfrewshire Council.

A spokesperson for SPT said: “As part of our commitment to support local infrastructure projects, this was a one-off investment from our capital budget for that year.

“If partner organisations wish to expand the car park and request our assistance again, that would have to be considered alongside many other projects that SPT supports annually.”

Renfrewshire Council has said an impact assessment on its parking proposals is being carried out by specialist transport consultants.

Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “Once we receive the information, the council will then be able to formulate its response and decision.

“These could range from no change to targeted measures to alleviate specific traffic issues, but any decision has to be arrived at from a position of knowledge.

“It is difficult to understand why Councillor Doig demands a particular course of action long before he knows the outcome of this assessment.”