Anger over plans to charge for parking at Mull ferry port

The lifeline ferry. Picture: John Devlin.
The lifeline ferry. Picture: John Devlin.
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A Scottish council has come under fire for failing to carry out an island impact assessment over plans to introduce parking charges at Mull’s main ferry port.

A Scottish council has come under fire for failing to carry out an island impact assessment over plans to introduce parking charges at Mull’s main ferry port.

The proposal has been condemned as an unfair and ill-thought out tax on islanders, which critics say goes against everything that the Scottish Government’s new Islands Act stands for.

Argyll and Bute Council is introducing new car parking charge zones across the region. However, islanders claim it is wrong to charge at the port of Craignure, where the ferry is the only access to lifeline services in Oban.

Critics also point out that the increasing number of ferry cancellations and delays on the Mull to Oban route means they can’t confirm a return time to collect their cars and the planned £9 a day charge could soon mount up.

There is added concern on Iona – which is connected to the mainland via Craignure – that, as tourist cars are not allowed there, holidaymakers will have to pay dearly to leave their vehicles on Mull.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said: “I believe the council should carry out a proper island impact assessment, a view re-enforced by my experience at my surgery on Iona last week, when ­everyone who attended had stories of potential hardship and difficulty.”

John Wilson, a former chairman of Argyll and Bute Council, who lives on Mull, said: “People are really up in arms about this, cars will be parking all over the place. Craignure is a special case because it’s the only port you can go to Oban from for hospital and dental appointments.

“You can’t go to Oban for less than four hours and usually it’s at least six hours. The whole thing is ridiculous.

“It’s not just that we don’t want to pay parking charges, it’s a big difference it being a port.”

Billy McClymont, chairman of Mull Community Council, said: “Craignure car park is a lifeline car park.

“If you are going to Oban for anything, you have to park your car there. There is no choice. The community council are worried that people will start parking all over the place.”

Oban, Lorn and the Isles Councillor Roddy McCuish said: “No decision has been made yet. The final decision is with the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee.

“I would like to work with the people of Mull to find a way that would suit everybody.”