Options are in to help Tobermory social distance safely

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Traffic choked Tobermory is waiting to see if its solutions to free up more social distancing space receives council backing.

Four ideas have now been put to Argyll and Bute Council by a traffic management working group that already existed in the town to solve a saturation crisis when visitors’ cars and campers descend on Tobermory at peak tourist times.

Tobermory Traffic Management Committee was approached by Argyll and Bute Council for problem-busting options after it received £315,000 from the Spaces for People programme to deliver temporary infrastructure to enable safer access for people who are walking, cycling or on wheels during the Covid pandemic.

Funded by Transport Scotland and administered by Sustrans, the money is to help trouble-struck town centres across the council region.

One of the Tobermory ideas now before the council  is to take away a lot of the cars from the Main Street to make more space for pedestrians.

Long queues on the narrow pavement outside the Co-Op and the popular bakery on that street mean people often spill out onto the road to social distance.

Main Street proposals include removing kerbside on-street parking bays and only allowing camper vans traffic that is going to catch the Kilchoan ferry.

Brian Swinbanks, who is co-chairperson of Tobermory Traffic Management Committee along with Councillor Mary-Jean Devon, said: ‘We have adapted some of the solutions we’d already come up with since the group started to look for ways of easing saturation of our traffic-clogged town. We are at saturation even now under Covid. Tobermory is bustling. We have to make it safe as soon as possible. This island has worked so hard to keep itself safe during Covid, we want to keep staying safe now and our visitors too.’

Other solutions put forward by the group include new signs directing traffic to Ledaig Car Park and guiding campervans and motorhomes up to Tobermory Campsite half-a-mile from the centre.

The Tobermory group is also pushing for a park and ride/walk car park to be created at Baliscate on unused council land near the cemetery to take more pressure off the town.

Tobermory Traffic Management Committee works with partners such as the lifeboat crew, fire service, the doctor’s surgery, businesses and other organisations from the town.

Under the Covid safer streetscape scheme, the proposals would come in as temporary traffic regulation orders which last 18 months.

‘Of course we’d like to see these proposals be permanent,’ said Mr Swinbanks.