Park­ing chaos to strike as hol­i­day sea­son be­gins

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

THE first ac­tion of the new coun­cil group in Oban should be to sort out park­ing, says for­mer coun­cil leader Roddy McCuish.

Park­ing chaos is bring­ing the town to a stand­still, say busi­ness own­ers and BID4Oban’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Derek Con­nery.

Coun­cil­lor McCuish agrees that is­sues with find­ing a park­ing place have now be­come so dif­fi­cult the only so­lu­tion may be to build a multi-storey car park.

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil has agreed to con­sult with the pub­lic about Oban park­ing next month, be­fore in­tro­duc­ing new rules in the town. If agreed, this will bring charges to ar­eas that were pre­vi­ously free, in­clud­ing charges at Lochavullin car park.

Last month a fur­ther 20 spa­ces were tem­po­rar­ily re­moved from the North Pier – which has brought the town’s ho­tel busi­ness to its knees.

One ho­tel owner said: ‘While ev­ery­one in the trade is look­ing for­ward to the new pon­toons and vis­i­tor cen­tre be­ing com­pleted, cop­ing with a lack of park­ing in the town is be­com­ing a prob­lem.

‘At the mo­ment the num­ber of solo trav­ellers com­ing to the town in their own ve­hi­cles is in­creas­ing. Often peo­ple are find­ing nowhere to park.

‘The ma­chines are not ac­cept­ing the new £1 coins, which means we are in­un­dated with peo­ple look­ing for change.

‘Last week 10 cars that parked next to the fenc­ing on the North Pier were is­sued with tick­ets. I doubt they had any­where else to park. It will ef­fect the rep­u­ta­tion for vis­i­tors.

‘Per­haps while the work is on­go­ing the coun­cil might like to take things eas­ier or maybe even of­fer free park­ing un­til the sit­u­a­tion is re­solved.’

There are also re­ports of ac­com­mo­da­tion providers pick­ing vis­i­tors up from Pen­ny­fuir ceme­tery in or­der to al­low their guests to find a park­ing space.

In­creased busi­ness and re­duced park­ing for CalMac staff in the town also means an ur­gent so­lu­tion has to be found, ar­gues BID4Oban chief ex­ec­u­tive Derek Con­nery, say­ing: ‘It has to be re­mem­bered that, while Oban is a cen­tral town, many of the peo­ple who work here live in ru­ral ar­eas and com­mute in.

‘The hard facts are that many peo­ple are em­ployed in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor and will be on wages to­wards the lower end of the pay scale. This means that pay­ing for park­ing could po­ten­tially cause huge prob­lems for peo­ple. It is cer­tainly plac­ing work­ers at an eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tage.

‘I think that as the town gets busier and busier, park­ing be­comes more and more of an is­sue for vis­i­tors and res­i­dents. While Oban brings in the ma­jor­ity of the rev­enue, it does not get much of the ben­e­fit of that money.’

Coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish told The Oban Times that he agreed with the com­ments of busi­ness own­ers, and said solutions were needed to re­solve the prob­lems.

Mr McCuish said: ‘I hope the first ac­tion of the new area com­mit­tee should be to find a so­lu­tion for park­ing in the town.

‘I have al­ways ad­vo­cated that we set a park­ing rev­enue tar­get for Oban, Lorn and the Isles [in or­der to pay a fair share to the local au­thor­ity] and any­thing over and above that should come di­rectly back into the area.

‘We also need another so­lu­tion which may be a multi-storey car park on land that the coun­cil al­ready owns.’

A coun­cil spokesper­son con­firmed that coin-op­er­ated park­ing me­ters will be re­placed or up­graded in time for the old £1s go­ing out of cir­cu­la­tion in Oc­to­ber.

The spokesper­son con­tin­ued: ‘Due to the on­go­ing work to con­struct the berthing and as­so­ci­ated mar­itime fa­cil­i­ties, car park­ing in the area of the North Pier may be lim­ited at times.

‘Driv­ers are asked to park con­sid­er­ately and safely while the work is on­go­ing.

‘This re­gen­er­a­tion will be a real boost to marine fa­cil­i­ties in the area and ben­e­fit the econ­omy, and have been widely wel­comed by the local com­mu­nity.

‘We will be con­sult­ing with mem­bers of the pub­lic on car park­ing in the town next month.’

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