Proposed parking charges on Mull

The letter below has been sent by our Chair, in response to the proposals to introduce charges at Craignure and Fionnphort carparks. We have only written regarding these two because they serve the two ferry terminals, and our remit doesn’t extend beyond ferry services. 
Don’t forget to write your own letters of complaint! Feel free to take inspiration from what we have written.
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Dear Sirs,
I am writing on behalf of the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee (MIFC) to object to your proposed Traffic Regulation Order 201. 
The MIFC constitution requires the committee to have 20 members who represent Mull and Iona Ferry users in sectors including aquaculture, fishing, farming, haulage, tourism, independent users, community trusts and community councillors. 
This letter of objection is sent by unanimous agreement.

Craignure long stay carpark. 
This carpark primarily serves as a place for islanders to leave their cars whilst off the island, for a few hours for a short trip to Oban to attend the opticians, hospital and dental appointments etc, for a few days if they have to attend medical appointments in Glasgow or beyond, attend family funerals or provide care to loved ones off island. It even serves islanders for potentially weeks whilst on holiday. It truly is a ‘long stay’ carpark.

The parking of cars in Craignure is part of the lifeline service which entitles islanders to travel to the mainland. A lifeline journey starts from your house until your arrival on the mainland. The council seems to have forgotten, or blatantly disregarded their duty of care to provide islanders with this facility. It also fails to recognise that this carpark is almost exclusively used by island residents, and is the principal carpark for our lifeline ferry service to the island. The application of the same punitive charging structure as used on the mainland in urban short-stay carparks fails to recognise the unique nature of the carpark as an element in a lifeline island ferry service. The Scottish Government recognise that island communities have different needs to mainland urban areas which is why the Islands Act was passed and the council is legally obliged to undertake an Island Community Impact Assessment before proposals such as these are progressed; if it has been done, it has completely failed.

It is also used by trades people who are working on island but live in Oban or beyond. It is common practice for these people to leave their vehicles in the car park overnight whilst they return home on the ferry on foot, coming back to their work on Mull in the morning. (Indeed your own employees do this). These charges add to their costs which will be directly passed onto to islanders, and worse, some tradesmen have already indicated that they will no longer serve Mull if these charges are introduced. This proposal is directly impacting our island economy.

The proposed table of charges is extortionate and completely inappropriate for a carpark of this type. Charging here will add £9 to the cost of going to Oban for a day; £63 to the cost of leaving the island for a week; £126 to the cost of leaving the island for two weeks. For concessionary fare travellers, these parking charges make travelling to the mainland prohibitive. If we compare to long-stay commercial carparks at ports and airports, it is DOUBLE what one would expect to pay.

Net council revenue from dues at Craignure pier exceeded £1.4million in the last financial year, money which has been raised by adding the charge to the fares we pay. Craignure ferry terminal is a major profit centre for the Council, yet you now wish to add to your revenue by penalising islanders who have no choice but to go to the mainland for services which mainlanders take for granted.

The original carpark at the Craignure Ferry Terminal was built at the same time as the pier in 1964, as part of the pier construction contract. The pier and all of the associated works were funded by a combination of private donations and central government grant, with pier dues set at such a level to cover ongoing maintenance. The carpark is and always has been part of the pier infrastructure, and therefore its maintenance and improvement should continue to be funded through the pier revenue.

In terms of the environment, it is now more likely that travellers who can afford to, will take their cars to the mainland, adding to pressure on the ferry, reducing use of public transport and increasing emissions.

You acknowledge the Craignure long stay carpark is overwhelming used by islanders rather than tourists, yet you have applied for and intend using funds you have been awarded by the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which, as the name implies supports Tourism Infrastructure.

This proposal also removes the Lorry park from Craignure.
By doing so, the council will have the dubious honour of leaving Craignure as the only main ferry port on the West Coast without a provision for commercial vehicles. You openly accept the lorry park is a disgrace which you have not been maintaining, however that does not mean it is not used on daily basis. Your officers flatly deny that it is ever used, but can provide no hard evidence for this assertion. Due to the weight restrictions have placed on some of our roads, lorries are regularly parking up in the lorry park and breaking down their loads to smaller vehicles. Drivers are leaving their commercial vehicles there, undertaking driver swap-overs (returning on foot to Oban) to adhere to their very tight rules re hours of work.

Your own road contractors working here for weeks in the summer parked one of their vehicles in the lorry park, a second took up 4 parking spaces in the car park, the third parked on private ground in the village and the fourth was abandoned, blocking a passing space for weeks, whilst the drivers returned to Oban on foot each weekend; hard evidence for the need of a lorry park in Craignure.

You have said that the local hauliers don’t use it, which is correct, because if they did they would risk losing their licence; your officers ought to have consulted the off island hauliers who are permitted to use the lorry park. It seems your research methodology is wholly flawed.

By removing the provision for a lorry park, you are choosing to force commercial vehicles onto the side of the road as they genuinely have no where else to park, rendering the main road through Craignure, single track. With vehicle movements in Craignure, just for the ferry alone exceeding 160,000 per year, to which you must add locals, commercial traffic and other visitors, what consideration has been made to road safety in this area? 
The Road Haulage Association are now involved too, and we understand they have taken Craignure as a case study to the Minister to try and get your proposals stopped; they see having the only commercial lorry park in Bunessen, with no access to the ferry, as farcical.

Your proposal also fails under the terms of the TRO’s statement of reasons-
* “supporting the local economy by ensuring parking turnover” – the long term carpark is not used by shoppers or visitors. Encouraging turnover does not therefore improve retail accessibility or improve the visitor experience. It serves only to add costs to local residents, making life on the island more expensive. Your own officers have admitted to us that the car park is principally used by island residents for travel on the ferry.
* “safeguarding access to blue badge holders” – This benefit is largely irrelevant here, since blue badge holders get a 25% discount on the ferry, and are therefore much less likely to use the carpark. Additionally, given that the carpark is to be considerably expanded (thanks to potential receipt of central government grant) there is little evidence that charges are needed in order to ensure space for disabled drivers
* “safeguarding access…for deliveries” – irrelevant for the long term carpark, since it is not used by delivery vehicles. The removal of the lorry park actually negatively impacts deliveries and access will be hindered throughout the village. 
* “safeguarding access … for emergency vehicles” – again irrelevant for the longterm carpark, since the only time an emergency vehicle would require access would be to attend an emergency in the carpark itself. There is no adjoining property that would require emergency access. However, the resultant on street parking by light vehicles and commercials could well hinder access for emergency vehicles.
* “managing inconsiderate and irresponsible parking” – Conversely, introducing charges here will only increase inconsiderate or irresponsible parking, because many vehicles will be displaced to road verges, and to private carparks such as at the nearby Craignure Inn, Isle of Mull Hotel or Craignure village hall, or onto other people’s land.

Columba Centre Car Park
This long stay carpark is used by residents of Iona, workers, trades and services for Iona, visitors travelling by ferry to Iona for holiday or day trips, and those enjoying boat tours. The proposed charges of £9 per day up to £63 per week or £126 per fortnight are, again,extortionate and the visitor economy on which Iona depends could be damaged. 
The regular commuters who travel by ferry to work on Iona including key workers will now be penalised and may be deterred from working on Iona.

Vehicles who currently use the Columba Centre carpark may be displaced to road verges, private driveways, field gateways and so will exacerbate the already acknowledged difficult traffic situation in Fionnphort.

The council has a Vehicle Permit Policy which restricts vehicles coming by ferry to Iona providing considerable benefits in protecting the unique and fragile island environment, and Iona’s fragile infrastructure and is welcomed by locals. We are concerned the proposed parking charges will lead to increased pressure from visitors to over rule this policy in an effort to avoid the charges.

This is a broad and complex issue, I trust our objections to the proposed TRO-201 are clear,


Elizabeth Ferguson, Chair.

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