MOTORISTS in Inverness will be allowed to park in pay and display spaces for free, as part of a new scheme.

The Highland Council’s pilot project will allow drivers to park for up to 15 minutes in on-street pay and display spaces without charge.

Motorists will use the ticket machines to print out a free ticket in the year-long trial, which has received the backing of the City of Inverness Area Committee.

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The scheme, which does not apply to pay and display car parks, will be reviewed in 12 months, when it could be adopted permanently.

Provost, Cllr Helen Carmichael, said: “It’s about striking a balance between making our city centres as accessible and shopper friendly as possible and managing congestion and the environmental impact traffic has within Inverness.”

Retailers said they hoped the move would encourage people to consider driving into towns for shopping, safe in the knowledge they would not receive a parking ticket.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell of Scottish Retail Consortium, said:”Scotland’s towns and city centres have a great deal to offer, however costly and restrictive parking is a real bugbear for motorists and is holding back shopper footfall. It’s great to see Inverness Council looking innovatively at how they can attract shoppers into the city centre.”

“We would encourage them to go further and capitalise on their existing powers – introduced under the 2015 Community Empowerment Act - to look at reducing business rates in their area.”

The new parking arrangements will come into operation once ticket machines are re-adjusted.

Perth's pilot has been kept on permanently.