Inverness could see the introduction of 15 minutes free parking, if a proposed scheme gets the go ahead.

Highland Council's Inverness city committee will be asked to approve a year-long pilot of the initiative at a meeting on Thursday.

The scheme comes from the Inverness business improvement district (Bid) initiative and aims “to allow drivers to nip into businesses for ‘click and collect’ activity.”  Bid manager Mike Smith said: “It’s important we give a positive message to people looking to come here. Increasing pay and display provision is part of that.”

Officials have recommended approval of the plan, although the Inverness City Committee must consider the £100 cost of adapting 17 ticket machines.

The idea has been widely hailed a success after being implemented in Perth, despite abuse of the system being reported, with some motorists repeatedly refreshing their free-time ticket.

A possible solution, to be considered by Inverness councillors, is a system that demands drivers input their registration number.

However, that technology would mean replacing the 17 existing pay machines – at a total cost of £85,000.

Council officials have recommended approval of the plans for Millburn Road, Upper Strothers Lane, Church Street and Castle Street, adding a total of 17 extra bays.

If successful, they would be £1 short-stay bays and generate an estimated £50,000 per year and cost the council £25,000 to install the machines.

Council traffic and parking officer, Shane Manning, acknowledges in his report to the committee that it would result in less loading space.  He concedes that “any increase in vehicles would impact on environmental pressures and congestion within the city centre.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart said: “Shoppers are aware that small city centre businesses are struggling.  If the 15-minute scheme goes ahead it should help stimulate the local economy.

“However, I’d be worried if it led to more congestion and increased environmental pressures.”