GARELOCHHEAD residents have blasted Argyll and Bute Council for using viewpoints in the village as a dumping ground for tons of stone and road chippings.

Sites at Whistlefield on the B872 and along the A817 Haul Road are regularly used by the local authority for surface dressing-chip storage.

The issue has come to the fore in recent weeks due to significant deposits at the sites caused by delays to road surface repairs throughout Helensburgh and Lomond.

However, members of Garelochhead Community Council (GCC) say this is to the detriment of the local area and restricts visitors’ ability to take in the popular beauty spots looking down over the Gareloch.

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Addressing the council in an email exchange circulated to the Advertiser, GCC convener Watson Robinson said: “We understand the challenges that you have, and I think you guys have done well to get away with this process since 2008 as you have stated, but I am sorry, no more.

“These areas are for visitors to stop off, get refreshed and enjoy the scenery, that’s why they were built.

"Since then we have rightfully had information panels installed to teach people about the local wild and plant life and they can then sit down on the picnic benches and enjoy their lunch, that’s what these places of beauty are for.

“What they are not for is our local authority to use as a holding area for thousands of tons of stone throughout the whole summer, and this is what has been happening for the last two or three years. It’s simply not on and it now needs to stop.

“If you are going to continue to use this temporary, dangerous and damaging road repair solution, then you need to provide a permanent holding area that doesn’t affect local economics and tourism.

"That space isn’t our viewing areas.”

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GCC vice convener Martin Croft said in a letter to the council: “The shutting of these areas has happened several times in recent years and has a detrimental effect on local business.

“As I am sure you know, Garelochhead is a small village with several small shops, a couple of cafes, a public house, a youth centre and bed and breakfast outlets.

“All require the additional tourist trade which comes to the village from people stopping at the viewing areas, particularly during the summer months.

“Many of these businesses have complained that, with closure of these viewing areas, there has been a noticeable drop in their trade and income.

“Our request is therefore: could the roads department find an alternative site for the storage and use of this material and free up these spaces?”

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Mr Robinson claimed the council has taken advantage of what “probably started as a one-off solution which transpired into a permanent practice”, but suggested that a more suitable location is found imminently.

He added: “The council is no different from any other business or body; if you need the space then you have to make it, purchase it or provide it for yourself.”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “Material for use in road surfacing must be stored in a suitable location, near to where the works will take place.

“We will always do our best to minimise any disruption, and we apologise for the delay in these particular works being completed.”

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