Vila Real de Santo António council has decided to deter shoppers in the city for 30 years by allowing a widespread parking meter scheme in return for a monthly fee.
Parking meters in and around the city centre already have been installed to the horror of local shopkeepers who fear less trade will result. More meters are planned, bringing the total to 1,800.
The wider area covered by parking meters will go live at the beginning of July, neatly coinciding with the beginning of the holiday season in a move almost designed to deter tourists and shoppers from out of town.
The blinkered council measure aims to create a higher income from parking charges and claims that two dozen jobs will be created just to run the scheme.
There soon will be a total of 1,800 metered car parking spaces in the centre of Vila Real de Santo António with summertime charges of 80 cents an hour and 60 cents in the winter when shoppers across the eastern Algarve and from Spain come to see the Christmas Fair and do their shopping.
More bizarrely, those resident in the city can get exemptions for up to three cars each and will pay no charges.
These exemptions are designed solely to get the deal through the council assembly and inevitably will be short-term as residents will take up most of the available spaces and the concession holder will need to start charging them or raising the hourly parking rates to incomers.
It is not yet known if those who drive into the city to work will be covered by the exemption.
The company that won the tender is called Estacionamentos à Superfície e Subterrâneos, or ESSE for short and now has a 30-year contract.
ESSE is to pay €400,000 to VRSA council at the start of the term and will pay the council ‘never less’ than €15,000 a month thereafter.