16.09.2016

Luss & Arden Community Council, Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs and Luss Estates issue joint statement in opposition to Argyll & Bute traffic proposals

Luss & Arden Community Council, Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs and Luss Estates issued a joint press release, highlighting the community's united opposition to Argyll & Bute Council's traffic and parking proposals.

In an unprecented step, local constituency and list MSPs Jackie Baillie (Labour) and Maurice Corry (Conservative) have jointly written to to Argyll & Bute Council urging them to withdraw their proposal. 

Full text of the joint community statement is below: 

The future of the historic village of Luss is being put in danger by parking proposals put forward by Argyll & Bute Council. Luss is world famous, with outstanding views across the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, and has been a place of worship since AD510. The village, home to just 120 residents, welcomes over 750,000 visitors a year. According to VisitScotland statistics, this ranks Luss in the top ten of the most popular Scottish tourist destinations, with higher footfall than Stirling Castle, the Falkirk Wheel and Edinburgh Zoo.

Argyll & Bute Council’s proposal to address the traffic congestion is to charge residents and visitors to park in the village. The proposal attracts NO support from village residents, local MSPs, The Friends of Loch Lomond or local businesses. Argyll & Bute Council’s proposals will actually reduce the number of available parking spaces and increase traffic congestion.

“I strongly urge the Council to withdraw their parking proposal and engage properly with the community.” Jackie Baillie MSP

Local authorities should be working alongside the community and local businesses to preserve the heritage and beauty of this historic village. However, in addition to issues with traffic, and despite many millions of pounds being invested by local businesses, the local authorities appear unwilling to assist in managing the huge annual influx of visitors.  Local residents and businesses are gravely concerned by the neglect of streets, signs, public toilets and buildings in Luss that are owned by Argyll & Bute Council and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Urgent action is required by both Argyll & Bute Council and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to protect the village for its residents and avoid a major loss of tourism in the area, by addressing the rapidly failing infrastructure.

Earlier this year the village successfully beat off an absurd proposal by Argyll & Bute Council to charge coaches to visit the village, which would have made Luss inaccessible for many visitors, as tour operators would have removed Luss from their itineraries.

Ian MacEachern, Convenor of the Luss and Arden Community Council comments: “2016 has been unprecedentedly busy, and we have suffered from dreadful and dangerous traffic congestion in the heart of the village. Allied to congestion, villagers and visitors alike suffer from the danger of cars parked on street corners blocking visibility, vehicles driving in the wrong direction in one way streets and boy racers tearing round the village at night. It is unrealistic to think that making Luss a Restricted Parking Zone will on its own reduce the appalling traffic congestion. Access to the village must be restricted to residents and services, an appropriate means of enforcement instituted, and additional car parking provided - although this must be limited to ensure that the character of the village is retained. Unfortunately, the infrastructure belonging to Argyll & Bute Council and the National Park is showing all the signs of neglect which people returning after a number of years frequently comment on. The community is fed up with all of this, and it must be fixed”.

James Fraser, Chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond said: “We have serious reservations about the Argyll & Bute Council proposals, which fall well short of addressing the traffic management and capacity issues in a way that will help ensure Luss continues to thrive as a pleasant place to live, visit or work as well as being the jewel in the crown of Loch Lomond.”

On two occasions in the last year, Argyll & Bute Council have been presented with local surveys that show a vast majority of the community rejecting their parking proposals: Scotinforms independent survey in August 2015; and Luss and Arden Community Council’s survey, conducted shortly after an Argyll & Bute Council attended public meeting held on March 31st 2016. 

Simon Miller, Chief Executive of Luss Estates Company, said: “Luss Estates has proposed an alternative plan to the Council, based on a model used successfully in many locations in the UK. Residents would have free access to and parking in the village. Visitors would park in areas close to, but not in, the heart of the village. We have offered the land, and to build a car park. It is worth noting here that Luss is a small village and therefore it is a very short distance to walk from this proposed parking site to the heart of the village. Unfortunately, the Council do not appear to be open to any suggestions which deviate from their own misjudged proposal. Argyll & Bute Council need to recognise that Luss has become a major Scottish tourist destination and provision of sufficient, safe parking is essential to service the village. With a young family of my own I am acutely aware of the difference in visitor safety between Luss and Stirling Castle, The Kelpies or Edinburgh Zoo, where children are not required to negotiate around hundreds of cars.”

In an unprecedented step, local constituency and list MSPs, Jackie Baillie (Labour) and Maurice Corry (Conservative) have jointly written to Argyll & Bute Council urging them to withdraw their proposal. Jackie Baillie MSP said: “It is absurd that Argyll & Bute Council propose a chargeable resident parking permit scheme in Luss, and I strongly urge the Council to withdraw their parking proposal and engage properly with the community. These proposals will not fix the acute problems in Luss, especially when they will not be supported by the constant presence of traffic wardens to enforce them”.

Maurice Corry MSP added: “The Council needs to come up with a better plan that seeks to keep visitors’ cars out of the heart of the village. Luss should be a jewel in the Scottish tourism crown, but instead is in grave danger of losing out due to a lack of joined up thinking”. Both MSPs have invited Argyll & Bute Council to sit down with them and community representatives, with the aim of coming up with a new plan that actually addresses the problems the village faces.

THE PROBLEMS

DANGER: pedestrians, especially the elderly and children, are at danger where the streets are narrow and there are no pavements.
CONGESTION: the tiny roads in this historic village have no restriction on visitor cars. The volume of traffic is unacceptable.
LACK OF PARKING: there is simply not enough parking. As a result, cars frequently double park randomly on pavements and blocking front doors. 
EMERGENCY SERVICES ACCESS: It has become extremely difficult for emergency services and lifeboat crew to access the village.

NOTES TO EDITOR

Luss, in the Scottish Highlands, is approximately 30 miles from Glasgow, off the main A82 trunk route. This early Christian settlement dates back more than 1000 years, with much of its historic core laid out in the early nineteenth century to accommodate the workers in the local slate quarries. Luss is within Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, within Argyll & Bute Council region.