Blackness residents to vote on pub’s fate as parking hinders business
A pub landlord fears parking issues in Blackness will mean the end for his business.
Colm O’Rourke and his wife Sheena own the Lobster Pot in The Square but say cones lining the road in and out of Blackness are driving customers away as they struggle to find somewhere to park.
Mr O’Rourke (70), is now asking residents to have their say in a vote as he says either the cones or the pub will have to go.
The couple moved into the house next door to the pub, the former Blackness Inn which lay empty for many years, four years ago.
They bought the pub as a retirement project, and after extensive refurbishment, it opened last summer.
Mr O’Rourke says the parking restrictions are causing additional pressure to the financial strain already felt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “Our customers are put off coming because of the parking situation and the cones.
“Customers are trying to come to the pub, many with bookings, but they turn and drive away because they can’t park.
“Most will ring and say they have had to go elsewhere because there was no where to park. They won’t come back.
“When people phone to book, we have to say they may have difficulty parking and some choose to go elsewhere instead.”
The cones, and a subsequent consultation on double yellow lines being installed, were put in place on the brae after the shortage of parking – an issue for years – came to a head a few months ago as lockdown restrictions began to ease.
A weekend of good weather saw visitors descend on the village with cars parked everywhere, and many inconsiderately, causing gridlock.
Falkirk Council put the cones down in a bid to ease the situation for locals and visitors alike.
However, Mr O’Rourke believes an alternative solution to the parking, such as a car park, is required before such restrictions can be in place.
He added: “I didn’t want to close the pub without asking the people, I wanted to let them know what was happening and to let them know the dilemma we were in, that we can’t continue the pub and have no parking.
“The villagers are lovely people, we’re not having a go at the villagers at all. It’s just that they have nowhere to park either.”
Ballot papers have been distributed and a count will take place on Saturday.
If the village votes for the pub Mr O’Rourke will use it as a mandate to approach the council with a plea to remove the cones, however if people vote for the cones he will have to close the business.
A spokesperson for Blackness Area Community Council said limited parking had been a problem for “many years” due to narrow streets, the village backing onto the sea, increased car ownership and a huge increase in visitor numbers.
They said: “Earlier this year, the community council asked for volunteers to form a sub-group to examine all possibilities, advance previous work done, and seek community support on solutions.
“BACC are in the process of reporting back to the community with the initial findings of that group, which includes ideas and considerations looked at to date, some of which may be explored further.
“The parking sub-committee has now ceased to exist due to resignations of its members and will require new members to continue.
“Recent influxes of visitors over the summer have exacerbated the problem and irresponsible parking led to fears that traffic congestion could be a danger.
“Resulting legitimate local resident complaints prompted Falkirk Council and Police Scotland to get involved.
“The installation of temporary parking restrictions by the council has alleviated some traffic flow issues.
“There is currently a public consultation by Falkirk Council regarding parking restrictions on the B903 which will allow parking for around 15 to 18 cars whilst allowing safe access to and from the village.
“The parking issues impact on residents, local businesses and visitors alike, with often conflicting needs, which BACC has tried to mediate.”
A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said they were aware of residents and businesses concerns.
He said: “It is a problematic situation in that there is obviously high demand for visitors to the historic location and balancing that with the needs of the local population.
“We are in the process of installing double yellow lines to help ease congestion and cones have been placed there as a temporary measure.”