Debate rages over bus stops
PLANS to remove signs banning coach tours dropping off holiday-makers at bus stops close to Fort William High Street are being opposed by some councillors less than a month before they stand down.
The signs, which say ‘ No stopping except local buses’ have been in place on bus stops in Middle Street since October last year after a decision made in Inverness without consulting local councillors or any of the businesses on the High Street which benefit from having visitors being dropped- off close to their premises.
A Highland Council spokesperson said the signs are regulatory, traffic enforcement signs and are part of the council taking over parking enforcement.
Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Andrew Baxter has been in discussions with local business owners and the council’s traffic management team, resulting in what he believed to be an agreement to have the signs removed. Councillor Baxter said: ‘I thought we had agreed they would be removed/ amended but it seems my fellow councillors think it will cause problems for regular bus routes and made it sound like chaos will fall upon Fort William town centre.
‘I will ask the council to suspend or cover the signs for the moment so we can consult with business owners, bus companies and coach operators to see if we can find a way forward. It’s important not send out a message to coach companies not to come here.’
Drew Purdon, owner of the House of Clan Jamfrie said: ‘For 25 years, there have been around 20 coaches a day dropping people off at these stops. Why stop them now?
‘The future of the town is being decided by three councillors who won’t be here in three weeks time. What a legacy to leave.’
Councillor Bren Gormley said ‘It’s fine for the stops to be used occasionally by coaches but there are a number of situations, more often when they are picking up, that they sit for an extended period at the stop, and at these times service buses can’t get in and have to sit in the middle of the road which is hazardous.’
Councillor Brian Murphy said he was pushing to have a meeting between councillors to find a solution.