ISLAND residents have called in legal advice from Glasgow to fight plans for what they say are “excessive” council car parking charges.
The community councils on Mull and Iona say that charges of around £9 per day per vehicle, due to be implemented across Argyll and Bute later this year, will have a serious impact on the islands’ economies.
They also say that the island communities have not been properly consulted and objections have not received due consideration.
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The community councils have enlisted the help of Glasgow’s Govan Law Centre, which has begun a legal process by writing to the council to outline the key objections raised by community councils and asking them to consider the unique aspects of Scottish island life.
Shiona Ruhemann, the convener of Iona Community Council, said: “We’re sad, frustrated and stunned to be in this situation. All we want to do is work in partnership with our council to strengthen our remote island communities and economies.
“Instead, we’re having to work with a community law centre to protect ourselves from the reckless, damaging actions of people who are meant to represent and support us.
“It’s glaringly obvious to anyone that the council should have started with open meaningful consultation and with responsible consideration of the risks and impacts before deciding whether to proceed with a TRO.
“Instead, they sprung a TRO on us out of nowhere, they went through their motions and they reached the conclusion they were always going to reach: an evidence-free non-consultative pre-cooked decision, a thoroughly inappropriate damaging blanket policy and a done deal.”
Billy McClymont, chair of Mull Community Council, added: “Our island communities are furious that the council has ignored the massive opposition from islanders, who know the realities on the ground and know the damage these parking charges will inflict on island residents and businesses.
“The council will claim they consulted properly, but that’s not true.
“They will claim they presented all objections to councillors, but that’s not true either.
“They will claim they mitigated the impacts – again, not true.
“They didn’t listen, they weren’t informed, and their last-minute ill-considered ‘concessions’ have appeased no-one, making the situation even worse for some islanders, damaging our economies and creating anger.”
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Mike Dailly, solicitor advocate with Govan Law Centre, said: “The islanders of Mull and Iona have real concerns about the detrimental impact of these proposed parking charges.
“We hope that we don’t need to pursue an appeal in the Court of Session and that the two sides can sit down together and agree a way forward.”
An Argyll and Bute spokesperson said: “The council has been contacted by solicitors acting on behalf of local organisations and is considering the submissions which have been made.”