At Random with Martin Laing

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Solutions needed to parking problem

There is undeniably a problem with traffic congestion in Oban.

Yet it is a curious conundrum that the busier the town gets, the more prosperous it becomes.

Some of us who live in the town are repeat offenders when it comes to bumping our gums about the volume of cars, caravans, campervans, vans and lorries clogging the streets and the inadequate provision of parking.

But we all benefit from the influx of visitors, whether directly or indirectly.

Tourism is absolutely booming in this area, with countless tourists from across the world thronging our streets. The sheer diversity of people choosing to come here is brilliant, and makes for a festive atmosphere around the town. And the money they spend helps to keep local people in decent jobs.

However, as a town centre resident, I find it frustrating that I often cannot find a parking space anywhere near to where I live.

I paid Argyll and Bute Council £85 last year for a resident’s parking permit for zone A, which includes my street and few others in the area. I have to say, I believe it represents pretty good value for money most of the year, though it doesn’t seem like it right now.

There is also the added problem that ‘it cannot be used outwith the relevant sub-zone or in off-street car parks even if all parking bays in the sub-zone are full’.

Why can’t the permit be used in car parks? After all, I’m paying up front and in advance as a goodwill gesture for the right to park near where I live.

The issue of parking is an emotive one. Every time we post a message on our Facebook page on the subject, there is an immediate and significant engagement, with people always demanding a multi-storey car park to be built.

A post last week drew a number of comments from people asking why the yachting fraternity has been provided with new transit berths at the Esplanade when there’s such a shortage of parking spaces for cars.

The obvious response, of course, is that drawing such an equivalence is like comparing apples with oranges. I know a number of people with boats who are hugely enthusiastic about the new pontoons.

The North Pier berths will bring economic benefits to the local economy as well as additional revenue to Argyll and Bute Council, which manages the pontoons, so that is a win-win situation.

There are two things the council can and should do, one in the short term and one for the long-term, and touched upon here already. The first is to allow permit-holders to use off-street car parks and the other is indeed to build a multi-storey, probably beside Tesco at the free-to-use at Lochavullin car park.

Let the new rugby season begin …

Oban Lorne RFC held its inaugural Tower 10s competition on Saturday as a curtain-raiser for the new season.

It was an excellent way to let the coaches see players in competitive action and in different positions.

The competition was preceded by a come-and-try session for women.

Rugby is thriving in this area (there are teams in Mull, Jura and elsewhere in Argyll), with a very successful youth set-up. Indeed, between them, Oban Lorne and Oban High School have teams for under-13, under-14, under-16 and under-18 boys as well as under-12, under-15 and under-18 girls.

Rugby really is a game for all shapes and sizes, all ages and both genders – and anyone who fancies trying the sport will be made very welcome at any of the local clubs.

For the record, Oban Lorne 1st XV’s league campaign in BT West Division One begins on Saturday September 2 with a home fixture against Garnock.

Why not make a note in your diary to go along and enjoy the game as a spectator?

What do you think?

Write to me at mlaing@obantimes.co.uk or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.