Villagers at ‘wits’ end’ over failure to ban tourist traffic

The village of Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond, attracts more than 750,000 visitors a year.

Villagers at ‘wits’ end’ over failure to ban tourist traffic

Villagers living in Luss are fighting to have tourists banned from driving through the streets as they warn of a “crisis point” due to visitor numbers.

The village on the banks of Loch Lomond attracts more than 750,000 visitors a year, but many of its 120 residents are now threatening to block roads unless the council imposes restrictions on traffic.

Luss, where Scottish soap Take the High Road was filmed, attracts more visitors annually than Edinburgh Zoo, Stirling Castle or the Falkirk Wheel, but residents say the congestion is impacting both tourists and local people.

A campaigning group of residents said they have lost faith in their council’s “incompetent and unaccountable” officials and urged the Scottish Government to intervene.

Direct action has already been launched by Luss locals, who erected five eight-foot signs on Tuesday asking motorists not to drive or park in the village.

The Luss and Arden Community Council had agreed a range of measures with the local authority to cut traffic, including banning tourists from driving in the village and forcing them to leave their vehicles at an as-yet-unbuilt car park in a nearby field.

However, members of the council now say the Argyll and Bute local authority have not implemented the proposals and are appealing to the Scottish Government to “start looking at this very, very seriously”.

Campaign: The villagers said they have lost faith in their council.

Peter Robertson, vice convenor of Luss and Arden Community Council, said: “People are at their wits’ end and have now resorted to putting up their own road signs because the council has failed to act.

“This has been on the agenda for many years. We have to question the competence of the council to handle tourism.”

Council convener Dave Pretswell said: “I do not believe Argyll and Bute Council have proven competent to properly manage the escalating growth of tourism in West Loch Lomond – it’s all about increasing tourist footfall and growing council revenue.

“Residents can’t leave their homes on a sunny summer day, emergency services can’t get in, deliveries to residents can’t get in and residents are frequently subject to abuse in trying to stop the worst of the parking chaos.”

Luss resident Alison Walker added: “We feel the time has come to take matters into our own hands; the villagers are seriously talking about blocking roads.

“People are at their wits’ end and have now resorted to putting up their own road signs because the council has failed to act.”

Peter Robertson, Luss and Arden Community Council

“Holyrood talks endlessly about the importance of tourism to the Scottish economy and it’s time ministers stepped in to take control.”

The campaign has received cross-party backing from Labour and Tory MSPs Jackie Baillie and Maurice Corry who have urged Argyll and Bute Council to work closely with local people to implement the proposed changes.

Ms Baillie said: “This whole proposal has been beset by delay after delay on the part of the council.

“The residents of Luss face yet another season without proper traffic measures in place for the village. The village will be gridlocked as a result and that’s not good for local people and it’s not good for tourists.

“It really is about time that the council worked much more closely with the local community to get this sorted. The council are responsible for taking forward traffic regulation orders but the community knows its own area best.”

Mr Corry added: “It is appalling that the parking scenario is still ongoing after such a long time. The community along with Luss Estates have come up with a sensible proposal and the council continue to drag their heels.

“These proposals take into consideration both visitors’ and residents’ needs, not only to make Luss less congested but safer and more manageable for residents all year round.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Traffic management is the local authority’s responsibility, but while tourism is of vital importance to Scotland’s economy, it must also meet the needs of local communities.

“We understand our partners at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority are aiming to help implement an agreed solution as soon as possible.”

He said the government has invested £281,000 on measures to alleviate pressures from visitor numbers, with £124,000 going to tackle the same issue on the loch’s eastern shore.

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