Fears have been raised that tourism will be hit after parking spaces were requisitioned for fishing gear at Arbroath’s harbour.
A subsequent announcement that vehicle barriers are to be erected at the harbour was described by a nearby business owner as simply camouflage for a “land grab” to cater for “a few commercial interests”.
Spaces have already been taken away and one business owner has warned the move will negatively impact the tourism sector – just a year before the eyes of the world will be on the town when it hosts the 2020 Declaration of Arbroath commemoration celebrations.
Marco Macari who has the Old Boatyard at the town’s marina has slammed the “lack of consultation” and said the erection of barriers at the harbour will see more than a third of parking spaces lost, which will negatively impact the tourism sector in the town.
He said:”Around 250,000 people visit the harbour each year, and that’s a conservative estimate.
“It’s a massive income generator for the town, including Smokie producers, restaurants, B&Bs and shops – everyone benefits from it.
“In 2001 I was invited by Angus council to partner them in the development and regeneration of the harbour, and we signed a deal that cost me over £500,000 and part of that deal was the planning the layout of parking to service the visitors.
“The marina, dock gates and the visitor centre was the result, a world class attraction in an area with a world famous food product – the Arbroath Smokie.
“Now, half the parking spaces have been taken over without any consultation and used as a tip for old fishing gear, and unsightly fencing has been up for the last six months.”
Mr Macari feels that the loss of parking spaces is the thin end of the wedge and more could be lost in the future.
He said: “The economic development department at Angus Council have done a fantastic job with the visitor centre, it’s fully let out to small, successful businesses, but these firms were sold leases with the expectation the full number of parking spaces would be available.”
An Angus Council spokesman said the fishing gear was being stored in the area due to the recent Ballast Quay collapse and the parking spaces will return when repairs are completed.
He said: “Successful operation of the harbour and the effective work of the harbour master rely on balancing the wishes and requirements of all users.
“This diverse range encompasses the landing of fish and accessing pleasure craft, as well as providing a pleasant, safe and accessible environment for visitors and tourists.
“This balance has to apply to the use of the car parking spaces next to the Western Quay of the inner harbour, or anywhere else within the harbour boundaries.
“Any proposals for formal changes to the use of spaces will take full account of any required approvals and permissions.”