Fighting fund set up to challenge island parking ‘tax’

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Campaigners raising money to legally challenge parking charges on Mull have just 18 days left to reach their £6,000 target.

The crowdfunding page at crowdfunder.co.uk/island-parking-tax-fighting-fund will give all pledges made by July 29 at 1.12pm to the appeal.

By Monday it still had £5,700 to achieve its goal.

Argyll and Bute Council says it is in the process of ‘finalising procurement for parking ticket machines’.

‘Once these are in place, we will advertise the implementation date of the order,’ said a council spokesperson.

The community councils of Mull and Iona are collaborating to launch a legal challenge and have secured legal representation on a no win, no fee basis but say there are some costs they will still have to bear, recognising a risk that ultimately they could lose the fight.

‘Given the complete failure of democracy and process that has led to the imposition of these parking charges, we now have no option but to challenge them in the courts,’ says the crowfunder page.

Any money leftover from legal expenses and other campaigning work would be distributed at the end to good causes on Mull and Iona.

Moray Finch, from Mull and Iona Community Trust, said a large dossier of information had been sent to a solicitor advocate who is assessing the prospect of a legal challenge against the TRO for campaigners to take the step of challenging the order in the Court of Session.

‘In the meantime, we understand that the date for making the order has not yet been decided upon by the council,’ he said.

The decision to introduce parking charges at three of Mull’s car parks  was passed by a majority vote of councillors on June 12, despite strong opposition from the island communities affected.

A petition on parking charges at lifeline ferry ports went to the Scottish Parliament at the end of June where it received support from island MSPs both in person and writing.

Campaigners say there is absolutely no coherent traffic management plan behind the charges and that they will only make the parking situation worse by displacing cars to verges and causing obstruction.

In the case of Tobermory, vehicles will be displaced to the congested and dangerous Main Street, they claim. And they say the ‘ill-conceived’ scheme amounts to ‘an unavoidable tax on island residents’, who have no option but to use the long-term car parks at Craignure and Fionnphort in order to access their lifeline ferry services.

There are also concerns the new charges will both discourage visitors and penalise employees, threatening to destabilise the islands’ fragile tourist economy.

Campaigners say Argyll and Bute Council’s consultation was ‘woefully flawed’ and that the community of Iona was not consulted at all. At the meeting where the proposals were voted through, delegations from Mull and Iona were denied the opportunity to speak.

The council also refused the offers of assistance from Scottish Government to undertake an Island Communities Impact Assessment, said campaigners.