Argyll & Bute Council will be introducing punitive charges at three of Mull's car parks. Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) 201 was passed by a majority vote of councillors on June 12th, despite unanimous and vocal opposition from the island communities affected.
- There is absolutely no coherent traffic management plan behind the charges. They will only make the parking situation worse, by displacing cars to verges and causing obstruction. In the case of Tobermory, vehicles will be displaced to the congested and dangerous Main Street. The scheme is completely ill-conceived.
- The charges amount to an unavoidable tax on island residents, who have no option but to use the long-term car parks at Craignure and Fionnphort in order to access their lifeline ferry services. It effectively adds a tax onto the cost of travelling to the mainland for anything from a hospital appointment, to visiting children at school or accessing any mainland service.
- The charges will both discourage visitors and penalise employees, threatening to destabilise our fragile tourist economy. The exorbitant charges seek to impose London Congestion Charge rates to some of our most remote, hard to reach places.
- Local representatives have offered alternative solutions that address traffic management much more coherently, but all have been ignored.
- The process of 'consultation' was woefully flawed. The community of Iona was not consulted at all. Claiming this is appropriate since the carparks are 'not on Iona' displays a wilful ignorance of the communities the Council serves. As an island-off-an-island, Mull carparks are essential to Iona residents travelling to the mainland.
- The council received hundreds of formal objections from community groups and individuals; petitions with many thousands of signatures; support from every elected representative of the islands from Community Councils to Scottish Parliament and above. Yet all of these objections were disregarded.
- The evidence presented by council officials to councillors on which to base their voting decision was incomplete and partial. At the meeting where the proposals were voted through, delegations from Mull and Iona were denied the opportunity to speak. Despite multiple invitations the Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council has refused to visit the islands and hear our concerns directly.
- The process of imposing the charges runs completely contrary to the letter and spirit of the 2018 Islands Act, which imposes an obligation on the Council to undertake an Island Communities Impact Assessment, so that the particular needs of island communities are accounted for. The council have refused the offers of assistance from Scottish Government to undertake an ICIA.
Given the complete failure of democracy and process that has led to the imposition of these parking charges, we now have no option but to challenge them in the courts. The Community Councils of Mull and Iona are collaborating to launch a legal challenge.
We have secured legal representation on a no-win-no-fee basis, but there are some costs which we will still have to bear, and there is the risk that ultimately we will loose our legal fight.
We therefore need your contributions to form a fighting fund to cover legal expenses and other campaigning work. Please help!
If for whatever reason we do not go ahead with a legal challenge, we will refund your donation.