Anger over Caol shopping centre parking

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Caol businesses could be suffering because of an increase in the number of cars parking at the village’s shopping centre.

People at the school or those using the community centre could be parking at the shopping centre until the new school car park is built. Residents are concerned that people who want to go into the shops have nowhere to park and are turning away.

But when asked about the issue, the Highland Council said: ‘School teachers and staff are not using the shop car park area.’

Caol resident Sammy Cameron told Lochaber Times: ‘If I drive in to the car park and see it’s full I think I’ll go and get what I need somewhere else. It’s not fair on the shopkeepers. Times are hard enough without losing out on business because people are using the car park for other reasons. Something needs to be done about it. The parking is for people using the shops.’

Caol shop owner Joyce Fraser, whose hairdresser is at the shopping centre, said: ‘The car park is full every day. I don’t know whether it’s teachers or parents dropping their children off, but I am having to come to work for five past, ten past nine, because some of that traffic is gone by then. People are taking up the disabled spaces too. It’s frustrating.’

A Highland Council spokesperson confirmed the new Caol Primary School car park will be completed in the next four to six weeks, weather dependent, and will be used by the school and the community centre.

Caol and Mallaig councillor Ben Thompson told Lochaber Times: ‘I have asked officials to look at whether limited time parking at the shops would work. The council should do everything it can to help those businesses.’

Police in Fort William also said there have been complaints about cars using the road between the Caol shopping centre car park and Erracht Drive, which is for buses only.

Mr Thompson commented: ‘This was discussed when the proposal for the bus lane was first raised. The comment then from council officials was that if signs alone didn’t work, bollards or a chain would be put in place. I think that time has come.’