MORE than 1,300 people have signed a petition against parking charges planned by Argyll and Bute Council near a popular Loch Lomond Hotel – within 48 hours of it going online.

Stuart King, group manager at Duck Bay Hotel and Marina, has set up the petition in response to metered parking bays being proposed by the authority.

These would initially be set up along the main road next to the hotel, followed by charges being introduced for the car park across the road.

The council said that money raised from parking goes towards essential services, but Mr King said he was furious at the proposal.

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He said: “For over 30 years parking in this area has always been free and we are absolutely outraged that the council would try to extort money from both locals and tourists alike simply to park their cars.

“We would advise that the council have no intention to provide any sort of facilities for people paying to park.

“There will be no toilets, no facilities for rubbish, no facilities to deal with sewage from the motorhomes etc.

“The car park in question was formerly a bog that was, in 1987, turned into a car park that was paid for entirely by Duck Bay Hotel and Restaurant.

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“This was done after an agreement was reached with the local council authority at the time, West Dunbartonshire, that in return for building the car park the council would always ensure that the car park would be free to use for the general public.

“Due to local boundary changes, this area now comes under Argyll and Bute Council who do not feel that this long standing agreement should be honoured.

“Loch Lomond is an area of natural beauty that should be free for people to enjoy. It is an area that Scotland should rightly be proud of and something that we should look to promote and encourage with regard to tourism.

“It is not an area that should be open to extortion and exploitation by local councils who are motivated by greed and nothing else.”

The petition was set up on Monday, May 13 and has been signed by people from all over the UK and beyond.

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An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “Year on year cuts to our funding mean that, like all councils, we must make changes to how we work.

“When the Traffic Regulation Order for Duck Bay parking is advertised, this forms a statutory consultation, which will allow members of the public and business community to have their say on these proposals.

“Money raised from parking goes towards essential council services, including car park maintenance.”

More than 1,500 people have since signed the petition.