Residents' survey rejects Argyll & Bute Council's proposed solution to traffic problems in Luss
21 August: The results of independent research to establish the views of local residents and businesses on traffic and pedestrian issues in Luss has just been released. Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and The Luss Estate Company commissioned Scotinform to conduct the independent survey.
The overall aim of the research was to gather the views of local residents and businesses on the traffic and pedestrian issues in Luss and to gauge levels of agreement with a range of possible solutions. Luss village has narrow streets and no pavements and the influx of visitor traffic (in the region of 750,000 visitors per year, many of whom arrive by car) often means that the village is clogged with cars. Pedestrian safety has been put at risk, especially for young children and the elderly, as cars and people are in such close proximity.
The importance of access and safety was also highlighted by representatives of Loch Lomond Rescue. “Some solution to congestion must be found - on occasion crew on call-out and emergency vehicles (police, ambulance, fire service) cannot get near the boatshed.”
The three key objectives of the survey were to:
- conduct an extensive consultation with the Luss & Arden community
- test out a number of possible solutions to traffic and pedestrian issues in Luss
- offer residents and businesses an opportunity to suggest their own ideas
“The results are statistically compelling”, said Chief Executive of Luss Estates, Simon Miller. “Argyll & Bute Council’s proposed solution to traffic problems in Luss has been overwhelmingly rejected by both village residents and the wider parish. A clear majority of residents want to see visitor traffic excluded from the village by means of a barrier.”
“The council wants to impose a solution which is contrary to the wishes of the village and parish, and in my view is short-sighted. This is a pivotal moment for the future of Luss and I am extremely worried that the council’s intention to impose a poor solution to Luss’ traffic issues will have a detrimental and far reaching impact on this historic village for years to come.”
On 9 June Argyll & Bute Council approved its own proposal for a parking scheme which involves local residents and businesses being required to pay for parking permits in the village, while visitors would be required to pay and display.
But Mr Miller says this proposal would not remove a single car from the village and is completely the wrong solution to Luss’ traffic problems. He argues that the council’s proposed parking scheme does not address the fundamental issue, which is traffic congestion, not parking.
“The council has now bowed to pressure and is splitting the Helensburgh and Luss Traffic Orders. I call on it to now amend its proposal so that we can find a more sensible solution along the lines of the democratic desire of the parish.
“The original Argyll & Bute ‘consultation’ was not well conducted, with only four days’ notice given for responses. Only 34 responses were received, and a minority of those supported the proposed Argyll & Bute council’s action, yet it is being used as support for the current proposals. It is my intention to refer this matter to the Ombudsman as I believe that there are grounds for its status to be questioned.
“We have also been told by council representatives that Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park would initially subsidise parking permits for residents which strengthened the council’s position. I believe that the community has been misled as it is now clear that no parking subsidy is going to be offered by any organisation.
“In an email of 23 June to Argyll & Bute Council, I detailed an example of a narrow road in a tourist hotspot where visitors’ cars had been excluded. Since then I have personally visited Hawkshead and Near Sawrey in the Lake District where visitors’ cars have also been excluded using, it would appear, the same mechanic. There is obviously a well-trodden legal path used by more enlightened councils which shows that visitors’ cars can be excluded from the centre of villages and towns, despite Argyll & Bute Council claiming it is not possible.
“I have recommended to the Luss & Arden Community Council that they formally respond to our Area Committee, withdrawing their support for the current proposal, and seeking a stricter regime excluding visitors’ cars, preferably by means of a barrier or restrictive street design, to be implemented in the same timeframe as the current proposal.”
Mr Miller’s email to local Argyll & Bute councillors and officials, along with a copy of the independent research report, has been sent to Jackie Baillie MSP; Gordon Watson, Chief Executive Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, and Sally Loudon, Chief Executive Argyll & Bute Council.
Luss Estates spent two years developing the Luss Strategic Development Framework which has broad support from all the community and stakeholders (including the Argyll & Bute Council). This included the provision of new parking areas surrounding the village to accommodate visitors’ cars displaced from the heart of the village. The Luss Strategic Development Framework, notably the element detailing the exclusion of visitors’ cars or pedestrianisation, is now included in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority’s West Loch Lomondside Draft Rural Development Framework Area Proposals.