Bare essen­tials make for a chair­less en­vi­ron­ment

The Oban Times - - News 9 - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

TA­BLES and chairs for public use were part of the plans for the ‘open space’ of the re­cently re­designed Stafford Street, an Oban coun­cil­lor has claimed.

Iain S Ma­clean, the SNP coun­cil­lor for Oban North and Lorn, said he had in­for­ma­tion that proved the pro­vi­sion of ta­bles and chairs was part of the orig­i­nal plan for all of the pedes­trian zone near the seafront at Oban.

Coun­cil­lor Ma­cLean said: ‘I have spent time with all of the Stafford Street traders at least twice each, and more with those who wanted me to re­port back.

‘Some said they were told by one coun­cil­lor that there was no longer fund­ing avail­able for ta­bles and chairs and some by another coun­cil­lor that pro­vid­ing street fur­ni­ture would be un­fair to other Ge­orge Street traders.

‘It seems to me to be a fa­tal flaw in Ar­gyll and Bute coun­cil’s state­ment that it is to cre­ate a ‘cafe cul­ture’ at­mos­phere in Stafford Street.

‘Fixed street fur­ni­ture would by def­i­ni­tion ob­vi­ate the per­ceived prob­lem with the youth ‘miss-us­ing’ the ter­races.’

Own­ers of the shops on Stafford Street agreed with coun­cil­lor Ma­clean.

A mem­ber of staff in Room 9 said: ‘It’s very bare. It needs some­thing. I know it’s for danc­ing, but it could do with some benches at least.

‘It’s a bare space. It could do with a bin also. I know there’s one at the other end, but we of­ten have to pick up rub­bish.’

Irene MacKin­non, of Kronks, said: ‘Af­ter see­ing it fin­ished, it looks beau­ti­ful, but there’s a de­sign flaw.

‘Per­haps the seat­ing should have been up the top in the bare area, but the prob­lem with that is the coloured glass, you can’t see through it.

‘Hav­ing said that, I haven’t sat down up there, so you might be able to see over it.

‘It’s lovely see­ing peo­ple sit­ting out­side, but af­ter the coun­cil said they were, then weren’t pro­vid­ing seat­ing, my­self and Pokey Hat de­cided not to put seat­ing out this year as we were mas­sively af­fected dur­ing the con­struc­tion process, but we might next year when we’re bet­ter off.’

How­ever, a spokesman for Ar­gyll and Bute coun­cil de­fended the de­sign, say­ing: ‘This pro­ject was about cre­at­ing a great new public space for busi­nesses, res­i­dents and visi­tors to use and en­joy.

‘There is some 90 me­tres of public seat­ing within the de­sign, which is al­ready be­ing very well used.

‘There is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal busi­nesses to use the flex­i­ble space the coun­cil has cre­ated to en­hance the of­fer­ing for their cus­tomers.

‘We would en­cour­age them to take ad­van­tage of this space by mak­ing out­door din­ing a pos­si­bil­ity, as it is in other Euro­pean cities. We are con­fi­dent that lo­cal busi­nesses will see the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able and will ap­proach the coun­cil to dis­cuss the best way to pro­vide an open air din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.’

The spokesman con­cluded by say­ing the seat­ing pro­vided by cafes was for their cus­tomers only.

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