Parking chaos to strike as holiday season begins
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.’