BUSINESSES in Gullane have claimed parking regulations brought into force due to the Open Championship have turned their village into a “ghost town”.
Golf fans driving away from the competition just half a mile away at Muirfield are directed on to a one-way system which bypasses Gullane altogether, while the main street of the village is lined with traffic cones, deterring potential passing trade.
Neighbouring towns such as North Berwick – two miles to the east of the course – have reportedly been inundated with visitors.
German bakery owner Falko Burkert, who doubled his staff in anticipation of a major boost from the Open, claimed that the restrictions have made the village as difficult to access as West Berlin at the time of the Berlin Wall.
“It is a transit corridor – as we had running from West Berlin to West Germany during the time of the German Democratic Republic,” he said.
Mr Burkert, who runs Falko Konditormeister in Gullane, said that the East Lothian village had been deserted since the practice sessions began last weekend – due to regulations implemented by East Lothian Council and police.
Despite the “no waiting” cones lining the main street, visitors are actually able to park there at certain times of day – although traders believe the cones act as a deterrent.
“I am more than frustrated,” he said. “My takings are down around 60 per cent and I have had to lay off staff. We feel neglected in Gullane.”
Other businesses have backed Mr Burkert’s views, saying that their takings have been dramatically lower.
Traders had expected a boom trading week after the council sent them information to help them deal with an influx of foreign tourists during the Championship.
“It is a disaster for what should be the host village of the Open,” said Gavin Wallace, owner of the Village Coffee House. “On Wednesday night I had literally two customers. I have had to throw out a whole load of fresh food.”
Hazel Melville, who runs home interiors shop Hazel Rebecca on Gullane’s main street, said businesses had been asked by the council to create window displays in honour of the championship.
“Everyone has gone to a real effort and we are getting nothing in return,” she said. “The village is a ghost town – it has been deserted.
“Our regulars are confused by the parking restrictions and locals have moved out, often renting their houses out, or are at the golf themselves. On the other hand, no-one who is visiting the area to go to the championship is coming to Gullane, so we’ve got the worst of both worlds.”
A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council admitted the signage in Gullane was potentially “unclear”. “We are aware of both traders’ and local residents’ concerns about temporary traffic regulations,” she said.