A businessman has told of the “devastating effect” an eight-week long road closure will have on local trade in Crieff.
Gas distribution company SGN has proposed shutting down the A822 Crieff to Muthill road for two months to replace old gas mains.
The exact date of the works has yet to be determined but some locals have raised concerns that they will be scheduled for the summer, when the town’s traders depend on business from tourists.
Stuart McLaren, managing director of Crieff Visitor Centre, labelled the idea “ridiculous”.
Mr McLaren is worried that the closure of the town’s bridge will cut off vital travel across the River Earn.
He said: “It won’t just have a devastating effect on my business as I will lose all my Crieff customers but it’s also the other businesses in Crieff that will lose their customers from the central belt.
“It’s not just the businesses but the people living on this side of the bridge who won’t be able to get into Crieff or get emergency services – it’s just ridiculous.”
The businessman suggested SGN explore traffic lights or other contraflow systems instead of shutting the bridge.
Local MSP Roseanna Cunningham will attend a public meeting on Saturday February 16 and is inviting residents to raise any concerns over the planned works.
Ms Cunningham said: “There are likely to be a number of issues and I want to ensure that they are all well and widely understood, for example the question of whether pedestrian access will be restricted as well as the restrictions on vehicles.
“Whilst I understand and accept that these works are important, it is important, too, that the concerns of the local community are taken on board and that the disruption to local homes and businesses is minimised as much as possible, particularly given the experiences of previous phases of this project.”
David McCann, Manager of the Crieff Succeeds BID business group, said: “I very much welcome this meeting and hope that there will be a good turnout from those who face significant disruption when these works begin.
“It really is very important that all of the worries and concerns that people have about the potential disruption are openly and publicly addressed.”
The public meeting will be held in the lecture theatre of the Strathearn Community Campus at 10.30am on Saturday.
SGN will also be holding a two-day public consultation at the campus on Friday from 9am till 5pm and on Saturday from 9am till 4pm.
Katie Lobban, SGN spokeswoman, said: “All of the feedback and information we receive will be seriously considered, and will help us in the planning process of our project.”