STAFF at a Luss coffee shop could be forced to pay nearly £500 a year just to come to work, the owner of the business has claimed.

Rowena Ferguson made her concerns known to local councillors at a recent meeting where a traffic regulation order (TRO) for the village was discussed and agreed.

Under the terms of the TRO, businesses in Luss will be entitled to two passes for off-street car parking, which can be used by staff.

However, Ms Ferguson said that additional permits were needed, although a council officer responded that a degree of compromise was required.

The discussion took place at a virtual meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee on Thursday, September 16.

Ms Ferguson said during public question time at the meeting: “The document [the report on the TRO plans] makes reference to residents being able to pay £90 per annum for a permit, but it does not mention staff who have to pay £489 just to attend work.

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“There is simply nowhere to park without charge. Adding on a charge of nearly £500 is simply too high. Why have you not proposed a solution?

“I propose solutions such as additional business permits, because this goes to the very heart of my business.”

Jim Smith, the council’s roads and amenity services manager, responded: “It is an issue that exists in many locations across Argyll and Bute as there is simply not sufficient parking for everybody who wants it.

“But we have a focus on providing parking for residents. There simply isn’t space to accommodate everybody, so there is a degree of compromise.

“There are opportunities for season tickets, but that does come at a cost as part of the council process. There are proposals for permits for businesses as well as residents."

A similar complaint was made earlier this summer by staff at the Duck Bay Hotel, a few miles south on Loch Lomondside, over Argyll and Bute Council's plans to introduce parking charges in the public car park next to the business.

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“We know that in some parking schemes, businesses are asked to pay in other areas.

"That is something we are looking at as part of the review, but we are trying to get two vehicles into a small space and that brings with it a degree of compromise.”

Ms Ferguson then said: “My staff probably have three or four cars and have parked on Church Road with no space issues. They simply don’t know why they have to pay.

“This is not a practical traffic order as it relates to busy working businesses and makes no provision for tradesmen to park their vehicles.

“They need constant access for tools and materials, but the only alternative is to park closer to the shop and risk a parking ticket while carrying out work.”

During further discussion among councillors, with the public unable to contribute, Councillor Lorna Douglas (SNP, Helensburgh Central) said: “There is real concern when you have businesses like the Coach House, with staff who are not on high salaries or anything like that and who have to pay for a permit in the region of more than £400.

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“Luss is not an easy place to get to. I know people who work there and do car pools, but to me, £400 for a permit is massive.”

Stuart Watson, the council’s traffic and development manager, replied: “Businesses can get two permits which can be for staff as well. If staff live in the zone, they can also apply for residents’ permits.”

Councillor Douglas added: “It is very sparsely populated in Luss, and a lot of young people working there come from Dumbarton or the Vale of Leven.

“It is a great opportunity for them to gain that work experience, but I would say most people working in the industry live outwith the zone.

“Is there something there that people who work there can park in the car park at a reduced rate? I presume there would not be a huge amount of space taken up.

“I would imagine £489 is a substantial part of the salary of somebody serving food, and I would ask that this is considered.

"These are young people from Argyll and Bute and West Dunbartonshire who have opportunities to work here.”

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