A parking bay which appeared at the Market Square in Stonehaven at the beginning of the week has been met with mixed reaction from locals.
The painted yellow markings, which takes up several parking spaces, has been put in place by Aberdeenshire Council for a trial period of 16 weeks, following a request from the Stonehaven Tourism Group, and will be reserved for tourist coaches, as well as a Land Train which is expected to be up and running by the end of the month.
Stonehaven Tourism Group member Michelle Ward explained: “We have been trying for several years to secure coach parking for Stonehaven, as many toirist coaches are put off coming here because there is nowhere for them to park. We are hoping that coach companies will start including us in their itineraries so that tourists will come here and shop, eat and use local facilities.
“As well as that, we have the tourist train coming which will also make use of the parking bay. If the people of Stonehaven are happy with it after a trial period, the parking bay will remain in place.”
Kincardine and Mearns Area Manager, William Munro, said: “Following discussion with the Tourism Group of Stonehaven Business Association, a new bus stop has been established at Market Square in Stonehaven. This is to encourage more visits from tourist coaches and for the new road train being established by Stonehaven Tourism Group to run from Dunnottar Castle taking in the main tourist attractions in the town.
“The bus stop will run for a 16-week trial period. After that period we will evaluate the amount of usage before deciding how to proceed.
“We recognise that parking is at a premium in the centre of Stonehaven and the bus stop will be monitored to see if it attracts visitors and is of benefit to the town.”
Local residents have been voicing their opinions on social networking sites. Lindsay Verstralen said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea. Many of our local businesses rely on income from visitors to sustain them. As a town we should be doing all we can to make it easy for people to come here. Most coaches have +/- 52 passengers on them ; all looking to buy something, eat something, drink something or have an ice cream. They learn about our history, visit our museum, pool, castle, town hall, attend events and support our economy . We have a fantastic group of volunteers in Stonehaven who work really hard to keep our wee town going.
Martin Gray said: “Having a coach stop is fine, put it in a more sensible place. The road beside the bowling green would be more sensible and closer to the beach area where lets face it most tourists want to go. Its a few minute walk to the town centre. Has anyone looked at the safety aspects of having coaches blocking the line of sight for cars entering and leaving the car park? “