Big business inaction leads to Caol car park flood

The flooded car park around 6 inches deep in places, is hindering shoppers from using the Co-op and other business in the Caol’s Kilmallie Road shopping area. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos

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A lack of proper maintenance and inability to approve work by a community group is being blamed for the flooding in Caol’s car park.

A problem that has been present for a while, the drains require clearing and some grates repaired and replaced.

However, the two national companies that part-own the land, Co-Op and Ladbrokes, have been silent to requests from Caol Regeneration.

With persistent rain there is no sign of any of the water draining away soon and some locals are avoiding using the area for safety concerns due to missing drains.

Company secretary for Caol Regeneration, Linda Campbell said: ‘We are ready to go on repairing the drains having sent out tenders to tradesmen and all the money in place from the council.

‘There are three landowners that we need permission from to begin fixing the drains and letters were sent out to all three in July of last year. We received a response from the man who owns the old bar building giving us the go-ahead, but have had nothing from either Co-Op or Ladbrokes, despite repeated attempts from different parties to contact them. We have now received a reply from Co-Op and things seem to be moving along on their end.

Sammy’s Fish and Chip Shop (pictured) has no stake in the car park. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos

‘First and foremost, this is about the safety of the community. People have already been injured from unknowingly stepping in broken drains and some are avoiding the area altogether.’

The community group wants these businesses to at least contribute to the cost of repairs, while Caol and Mallaig councillor Ben Thompson thinks they should pay the full bill.

He said: ‘Caol Regeneration have been doing an absolute power of work to try and get the situation sorted. There is money available for them through the council-administered scheme to improve village centres like Caol’s, but this is supposed to be for the likes of a pedestrian crossing, not fixing things on private land.’

The Caol Regeneration project has money from the council to add a pedestrian crossing, benches, and a public noticeboard to the area around the square.

Some of this money has now been diverted to the drain maintenance but locals are suggesting businesses be invoiced for the work once it is complete.

A representative from the Co-Op was in contact with the Lochaber Times before publication, but unable to provide a definitive statement before we went to print.

Ladbrokes were unavailable for comment.