BUSINESS owners hoping to cash in on the influx of golf fans to Gullane have blasted traffic restrictions for leaving them in a “ghost town”.
They have been left counting the cost after traffic cones were placed along the entire high street, effectively stopping passing trade from pulling in.
Parking restrictions have also resulted in “a bunfight” for spaces elsewhere in the town.
Falko Burkert, master cakemaker at the town’s German bakery, said: “We are hosting The Open, but all the village businesses have been excluded, everyone is dying.
“There are cones everywhere with little signs attached to lampposts stating that people can park for an hour. No-one notices, though, because they see the cones and just keep going.
“There’s a constant flow of people driving through to Muirfield but we’ve been less busy than on a rainy day in winter. Everything was fine last Saturday, the village was bustling, but then the workmen laid down the cones and everything dried up.”
Parking is banned on the main road through Gullane between 7am and 10pm during the championship, which runs until Sunday.
A limited number of parking passes have been issued to traders and residents by East Lothian Council.
Bosses at the Golf Inn – an 11-bedroom hotel on Main Street – labelled the restrictions as “severe”, saying the seven passes received were insufficient to deal with staff and customer needs.
Owner Rob Reeley said: “It’s a joke, really dreadful. Someone has made a small fortune out of traffic cones but the local businesses have had it tough. Around the back of the inn there used to be a green space that residents and staff could park on, but this has been fenced off, resulting in a bunfight for spaces.”
He added: “We made the council aware that this would be an issue but this is their plan and they have stuck to it.”
Gullane councillor David Berry insisted he was “sympathetic” to the plight of business owners, but said he believed the council had no option but to implement these measures.
He said: “The difficulty is that in order to keep the High Street moving, severe parking restrictions such as those implemented are needed.
“If the hundreds of thousands of visitors who descend on Gullane don’t wish to walk back to the High Street then I don’t know how we can make them.”
He added: “We have four days of wall-to-wall advertising for the village so I’m sure there will be a halo effect and tourists will come after The Open.”
An East Lothian Council spokeswoman said: “These restrictions have been put in place following consultation with police and at their request.”