Islanders urge impact assessment over parking charges

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Islanders on Mull packed into Craignure Village Hall to voice their concern over the proposed parking charges at a public meeting on Friday.

A consultation process is currently under way but, if implemented, the free car parks at Craignure, Fionnphort’s Columba Centre, and Ledaig in Tobermory would change to being paid for.

This has been met with scads of objections, including a petition which has been signed by more than 2,100 people.

The process began before the Islands (Scotland) Act came in. However, islanders, and some councillors, are asking for an island community impact assessment to be carried out regardless.

More than 100 people attended the public meeting.

Brian Swinbanks, who is chairman of the Tobermory Harbour Association, updated those who were unable to go.

He said: ‘Superb turnout from islanders at the meeting with the four councillors in Craignure today. Yes the councillors listened, yes the councillors got the message. The message that living on an island is unique and different.

‘Under the Islands Act, they have to take this into account when introducing TROs [Traffic Regulation Orders] and above mainland charges.

‘An island-wide impact assessment will have to be undertaken with council boots on the ground and officers talking to real islanders before any or no charges are introduced.’

Councillor for Oban South and the Isles Jim Lynch said: ‘There are a lot of objections coming in for various reasons. We now need to look at the Islands Act.’

Councillor Lynch said that an island impact assessment should be done, and ‘should be done properly’.

‘People should be there talking to folk,’ the councillor added. ‘It’s very clear that one size does not fit all. We need to look at it and we need to do the islands assessment.’

Councillor for Oban North and Lorn, and chairwoman of Oban and Lorn Area Committee, Elaine Robertson, added: ‘The consultation process is still under way. The objections will be evaluated and discussed before any decisions are made.

‘This could be a great opportunity to exercise the island impact assessment in the Island (Scotland) Act, which was passed in May 2018.’

Oban South and the Isles councillor Roddy McCuish said: ‘The meeting was very well attended and we were left in no doubt the feeling about the proposed parking charges on Mull.

‘We are still in the consultation process and have a bit to go yet should the TRO be implemented or not.’

Fellow councillor, and Mullach, Mary-Jean Devon said: ‘The questions were fantastic. Someone asked them why it is okay for you to impose this on us when you park for free in Kilmory.’

Mrs Devon is in support of an island community assessment being carried out.