A VILLAGE shop owner says the viability of his business is under threat unless tighter parking restrictions are introduced by the local authority.

Robert Ryan, who has ran the Brae Shop since his family took it over in 2016, launched a petition on Sunday calling for Argyll and Bute Council to implement short stay measures in three parking spaces outside the Rhu store.

Mr Ryan claims that regular customers, many of whom are elderly and disabled, are often unable to access the outlet as cars remain parked in the closest spaces in Manse Brae for days or weeks on end.

The online petition has been supported by 85 people since it was started, with an initial target of 100 signatures.

It states: "Operating a village shop is a challenge. When the only adjacent parking is occupied long-term, it seriously affects our ability to keep the shop and the six incomes that it provides going.

READ MORE: Councillors back Rhu residents' pleas for safe pavement on busy village street

"Potential customers who can't get parked simply carry on and shop elsewhere.

"We ask Argyll and Bute Council if they can please designate the spaces as short stay, thus limiting to 15 or 30 minutes the amount of time permitted to stop there.

"The village has lost so much in recent years, the bowling club and the Post Office being two examples. The reason is that they became unviable.

"The viability of the shop is under threat. Please sign to help us stay in business and to allow our elderly and disabled customers access."

Mr Ryan said the current coronavirus emergency has exacerbated the problems with locals desperately trying to stock up on vital supplies during virtual lockdown.

The store is operating normal opening hours with a free delivery service for over 70s, the disabled and those who are self isolating and the family say they are fortunate to be able to run the business at all at the moment.

READ MORE: Helensburgh 'Men's Shed' group eyes former bowling club site in Rhu for new home

Notices appealing for greater consideration from road users temporarily alleviated the situation but Mr Ryan and his family are now seeking a permanent solution.

He told the Advertiser: "We have six staff both full and part-time who rely on the shop for their income. With increases in the living wage and payment to pensions, we can ill-afford a drop in turnover.

"The difference in turnover from when the spaces are occupied and not occupied is considerable. If customers, particularly the elderly and disabled, can’t get parked, they go elsewhere.

"Short stay measures would only really be required during the shop’s busiest period which is 6.30am to 2pm.

"When I have asked before, the council has said they can’t do it because it is a conservation village. The suggestion of three spaces being designated as short stay does seem a modest and reasonable request to assist us and our customers."

READ MORE: 'Phone befrienders' sought as Helensburgh and Lomond's coronavirus help gathers pace

The site, which had previously been owned by local bus company Wilson's of Rhu, has been home to a convenience store in some form for more than a century.

Mr Ryan said he intends to retire in a few years but hopes the shop would continue to serve the village long after that and it would be a "real loss for the community" if it were to close.

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said the request for parking restrictions on Manse Brae could not be investigated at this time, adding: "The introduction of a new Traffic Regulation Order is a process that involves site visits and consultation with residents, the community and emergency services.

"This could not be progressed under current restrictions and while the council is delivering critical frontline services to communities around Argyll and Bute.

“Support is available for businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and can be accessed via our website or by calling 01546 605 524.”

READ MORE: Check out all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news headlines here