Loch Lomond Parking Charges Controversy

21/06/2021

Use of popular Duck Bay picnic and rest area under threat from Council’s charging plans

Conservation charity, the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs has joined the campaign to protect the use of the popular Duck Bay Picnic and Rest Area from the controversial plans by Argyll & Bute Council to introduce parking charges at the car park which was funded and provided by the Cawley family, owners of Duck Bay Hotel, more than 30 years ago for the free use of local residents and visitors to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

The Friends are also fighting the plans for parking charges along the entire length of the associated loop of the old A82 which performs an important role as a pull in and rest area for travellers where they can safely enjoy their first glimpse of Loch Lomond and break long journeys.

In a detailed submission to the Council, the Friends have put forward strong grounds of objection to the charging proposals which are currently out for public consultation. However, their overriding objection is on the grounds of road safety as they contend this will result in the displacement of a large number of vehicles to less safe areas such as verges and low capacity laybys beside the nearby busy A82 where motorists and their passengers will be placed in more danger with the prospect of a higher number of road accidents. They argue that Duck Bay is currently a ‘safe haven’ for travellers seeking a stopover rest area and visitors simply wanting to enjoy a popular lochside recreational area which they traditionally have done so for many years.

James Fraser, Chair of the Friends said: ‘’We appreciate the Council is coming under greater pressure to fund core services but the proposals to introduce parking charges at the most popular picnic and rest area on Loch Lomondside without fully thinking through the consequences on road safety and visitor management grounds is unacceptable and premature in advance of much needed improvements at this important gateway site.

The plans, if they are implemented, will have profound consequences in terms of impacting adversely on road safety, the use of Duck Bay picnic and beach areas by low income households, and the operation of the flagship Duck Bay Hotel with staff likely to struggle to pay the proposed long stay parking charges.’’

The Friends contend the proposals are contrary to the original agreement between the former Dumbarton District Council and the late Bobby Cawley of Duck Bay Hotel that led to the Cawley family investing a substantial sum in building the car park on the understanding this would be available for the general public to enjoy the Duck Bay area free of charge for recreational purposes and for hotel guests and staff to Duck Bay Hotel to have access to free parking.

                                                More Sensitive Approach

Given the national and international significant scenic qualities of this site with the stunning backdrop of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond, the Friends argue a more sensitive approach to dealing with traffic management and site capacity issues is required and consider there is a strong justification for a serious investment in sensitively designed visitor infrastructure improvements including additional parking capacity and permanent toilets before any further attempts are made to introduce parking charges.

According to the Friends, the popular Loch Lomondside site is currently very run down with burnt out picnic tables, derelict toilets, rusting bins, sign clutter and very outdated information boards and is in desperate need of a makeover.

The Friends have recently stepped in, with the help of funding partners, to provide temporary seasonal toilets at Duck Bay following a 25year absence of functioning public toilets at this busy site.

Meanwhile, a ‘Save our Spaces’ campaign against the controversial parking proposals organised by the Cawley Group who own Duck Bay Hotel is attracting strong support and can be accessed by downloading information at https://duckbay.co.uk/news-events/save-our-spaces/