Opinion: Martin Laing on the problems of parking in Oban

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Parking problems won’t go away

I live in the centre of Oban and have a car. I also have a resident’s parking permit for zone A which costs me the princely sum of £85 for the year.

I have to say that I pay for the permit quite happily as I think it represents pretty good value for money … when you can find a space, that is.
There is an unfortunate juxtaposition that the more Oban’s economy booms – and that is brilliant for everyone in the area – the harder it becomes to park in the town.

As we gear up for the beginning of the high season, the Oban area is becoming busier by the day. At the same time, the availability of parking spaces, both on and off street, is being diminished by ongoing works.

The car park at North Pier has many fewer spaces because of work on the planned new pontoons and the demolition of the former Harbour Bowl building is causing disruption in the Shore Street area.

I’ve written here previously criticising the moaning minnies who constantly grumble about the temporary disruption and would make that point again. This is, after all, short-term pain for long-term gain.

In the long haul, the new pontoons will bring more business into the centre of Oban, while the new Premier Inn on the site of the former bowling alley will augment the town’s economy in the same way.

Councillor Roddy McCuish has suggested we need to consider a multi-storey car park, perhaps at Lochavullin. That is certainly an intriguing idea, though there will be questions over where the substantial cost will be met from.

One thing is definite: the shortage of parking in Oban is a problem that won’t go away.

However, it is good to know that consideration is being given to potential solutions. We need to do something sooner rather than later to address the issue.

Poignant gift of treasured items

As we report today on the facing page, Bob James has handed over to Oban War and Peace Museum significant mementoes from his family’s recent history.

The story behind Mr James’s gift to the museum is a fascinating one and will, I am sure, be featured prominently in the excellent museum on the Esplanade.

I have to admit that I was unaware of the history of the Sunderland seaplane that crashed off Kerrera until I read the story of how Mr James’s father, Flight Sergeant Robert James, died on the night towards the end of May in 1942.

Now Mr James, who lives in Lincolnshire and never met his father, says the donation of photographs and letters means his regular pilgrimages to the scene of the tragedy are probably at an end.

We should all be grateful for his generous gift and hope he will return regardless.

Congratulations to bright spark Rachel

Oban-based Rachel Parker has won national recognition for her entrepreneurial skills in setting up Rachel’s Gluten Free, a catering business that pretty much does what it says on the tin.

My wife has coeliac’s disease, which means a strict gluten-free diet. Even in recent years, this has at times been a condition which has meant eating dull, unappetising dishes with few sweet treats.

These days, thanks to much greater awareness and people like Rachel, it’s not a problem.

Well done, Rachel, and thanks for the cakes.

What do you think?

Do you have something you want to share? Let me know by writing to me at The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB, or by email to mlaing@obantimes.co.uk.