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The last weekend in April – or first in May, depending on the year – is one of the busiest in Fort William’s calendar as the high season begins and crowds descend on the town for the Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT).
In the days leading up to the SSDT and the Pre-65 trials, there is an influx of motorcycle fans all wanting to be part of this international event, as well as the 280 riders who come from all over the world, their crews, press teams and families.
However, it would appear that the Highland Council and town officials may have taken their eye off the ball this year, leading to parking difficulties in the town centre.
Two of Fort William’s four long-stay car parks were closed to the public in the days leading up to the busy weekend (April 29 and 30).
The West End car park was, as usual, being used as the base for the trial, home to the merchandisers, crews and where the bikes are weighed in and stored; and An Aird was used as a fairground over the weekend.
This week Fort William resident and business-owner Gywn Moses spoke out after he received a parking ticket on Thursday (April 27).
Mr Moses, who runs the Gallery in The Fort on the High Street, told the Lochaber Times that he had trouble finding long-stay parking on Thursday as both the West End and An Aird 2 car parks were closed, and the town’s remaining two long-stay car parks (An Aird 1 and the Transport Centre car park) were full to capacity.
He said because of this he parked in a designated campervan space in An Aird 1 car park because the only car parks with any spaces were for short-term parking only.
He said: ‘I would have had to pay for four hours and then rush out to move the car, which is not always possible when the shop’s busy. I parked in the campervan space because I didn’t want to take up a disabled or electric space.’
Mr Moses appealed his parking ticket, but quickly received a reply from the Highland Council saying that the responsibility was with him to be aware of parking restrictions and park appropriately.
‘How can the council get away with taking away the two biggest car parks in the town at the same time?’ he asked. ‘Tourists will be caught out and might be put off coming back. It’s not good for tourism in the area.’
A spokesperson for the Highland Council said: ‘The decision to close these car parks is down to local Lochaber policies and decisions are taken in conjunction with the police and event organisers.’