Crieff’s highland games risks losing thousands of pounds and visitors over the proposed closure of a bridge in the town.
The Highland Gathering in August draws thousands of tourists each year but the games’ chairman fears the huge event could fall victim to SGN’s proposed eight-week road closure to replace old gas mains on the Crieff to Muthill road.
Ian Stewart, chairman of the Crieff Highland Gathering, believes the gas company intend to do the work over the summer holidays, ending just before the event, but that any scheduling delays could cost the games thousands of pounds if they run on to Sunday August 19.
The Crieff gathering markets itself as Scotland’s premier highland games and boasts a Hollywood star as one of its former chieftains with Ewen McGregor taking on the role in 2001, followed by his dad in 2017.
Local Hero star Denis Lawson was also appointed chieftain for the 2006 games.
Mr Stewart said: “Several thousand people come to Crieff for the Highland Gathering and the majority of our visitors come from the south, which is on the other side of the bridge.
“Our main car park is also on the other side of the bridge with a shuttle bus taking people to the games, so that is a particular issue.
“If the bridge is closed then we could could instantly lose half our gate.
“Crieff Gathering costs us in the region of £70,000 to put on every year, if we struggle with the bridge being closed and several thousand people don’t get here then it’s a huge blow for us this year and next year.
“It’s a huge concern.”
SGN hosted a public consultation on the plans yesterday, which will be repeated today.
Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: “Crieff is predominantly a tourist town and anything that could impact on events like the Highland Gathering is a major concern.
“Another issue I noted at Friday’s consultation event was that some residents are concerned over the impact on ambulance cover caused by the roadworks.”
“However, it was very encouraging to hear the depth of consultation taking place at Friday’s event and it was very clear that SGN have recognised the concerns of local residents.”
However Strathearn Conservative councillor Roz McCall hopes the community outcry may persuade SGN to push back the works until winter.
She said: “I attended yesterday’s consultation at Strathearn Community Campus in Crieff and SGN told me they are thinking about carrying out the roadworks in the winter, which would be ideal.
“This shows how important it is for local residents to attend these consultation events.”
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.”
The public consultation continues today at Strathearn Community Campus from 9am until 4pm.