Councillors across Aberdeenshire are set to decide on a series of cost-cutting measures as the local authority looks to close a blackhole worth more than £35million.

Budget papers released last week proposed a number of measures worth up to nearly half of the £35.45million required, including huge cutbacks in school crossing patrollers, janitors, and administration staff.

But today's meeting could also spell danger for businesses across the region with parking charges potentially being introduced or increased.

The new proposals include the removal of free parking in towns like Banff, Fraserburgh and Inverurie, as well as an increase of 30% in standard parking charges.

Removal of the free spaces at pay and display car parks would save £151,000 over the next 12 months, but there are fears among businesses that they'll do nothing but act as a deterrent for people considering visiting the unique town centres.

"It won’t stop people coming in but it will stop them browsing. I think they’ll come in, do what they need to do and go," explained Mike Stuart, who owns the Inverurie Whisky Shop.

"Inverurie is a town that thrives on hidden gems and places that you might not know.

"If you’ve got that time with the free parking to mooch around and have a look you’ll discover that."

Other owners have criticised the Shire council for following the city council in down the "same path of trying to kill off the high street".

Full budget papers ahead of today's crunch meeting can be found here.

Read more in the Press & Journal.

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