Having a Square go!

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SHOPKEEPERS, business owners and members of the public have joined forces to berate “road improvements” being carried out at St Ninian’s Square, which they believe will have nothing other than a detrimental effect on their places of work and ability to earn a living.

Matthew Neve, who recently opened his photography business in the Square, was joined by newsagents David and June Lindsay and haulage contractor Lar Steel in expressing concerns, with Mr Lindsay describing the works as “an act of madness planned by someone who has obviously never ever set a foot inside Brechin.”

Mr Lindsay, who has run the paper shop at St Ninian’s Square with wife June and son Craig for the past 14 years, asked: “Who came up with this plan? We are effectively losing six parking spaces. With that goes customers and with that goes business.

“We are informed this is to make the road safer, yet cars, lorries and vans are having to drive down the middle of the road now, because the pavement has been widened at one side and they are about to widen it at the other.

“I have never voted, which I know is wrong, but things like this put me off voting all together.

“Local councillors love to have their photograph taken when there is something positive on the go, but never bothered asking those who are directly affected what they think of the “improvements”.

“This surely must have been a decision taken by someone who has never been to Brechin in their lives.

“We were told that it was for road safety measures, but in the 14 years we have been here, there hasn’t been a single child knocked down leaving or coming to our shop. The local boys’ club also meet across the road every Sunday and have never had a problem. Why were we not asked what we thought? In all the time I have lived in Brechin I can never remember an accident here.

“We have an elderly customer who comes into the shop and she said the pavement has been perfectly fine for the past 70-odd years of her life. If they wanted to fix anything it should have been the step down from it which pensioners struggle with in the winter.”

Mrs Lindsay added: “We have worked long hours to build the business up in the last 14 years and we hear a lot from the politicians about how they want to support local and small businesses. What sort of help and support is this? It’s sheer and utter madness?

“The Square often gets busy, especially in the summer months which are approaching.

“On top of that you have people attending the church, the Caledonian Railway and the library, who need parking. What is Angus Council’s response to a requirement for more parking. They take away six existing spaces. It’s ludicrous and has made me so angry.”

The Lindsays were joined by local photographer Matthew Neve, who is about to lodge a clam for loss of earnings of around £700 with the council.

Matthew said he felt the council “were away out of touch with local people” if they felt things had improved.

He added: “These people are meant to be helping to encourage new business and this isn’t helping at all.

“I have calculated loses of £700. A lot of my business is families with kids, who don’t want to be walking in with them.

“If they can pull up outside and come in they are fine. They can’t do that any more.

“On top of the loss of the parking places as Mr and Mrs Lindsay have pointed out, you have people attending the church on a Sunday, people going to the library through the week and also huge numbers often at the Caledonian Railway. What sort of brain works out that the answer to all of this is to reduce the number of parking spaces?

“Across at the other side of the road we have already lost two to three spaces and, with the same forecast for this side of the road. I don’t know what they’re doing at this side at the minute, but while the work is going on there is no parking at all. Lorries can’t get swung around.

“The only reasons I can season for this “improvement” is to use up the remainder of the budget. There is supposedly no money for local authorities, yet we have roadworks in almost every part of the town - its an absolute shambles. If they were filling the pot holes it wouldn’t be so bad.

“One business up Market Street has already been lost because of the town centre improvements and we don’t want any more to go the same way.

“Personally I would like the council to compensate in some way for the loss of money that all the businesses down here are presently suffering from.”

Park Road resident Ian Jardine backed the stance taken by the local businesses.

“I was waiting to see if there was a letter about this monstrosity in last week’s ‘Brechiner’ - but did not see one,” he commented.

“Frankly, I wondered if anyone had any idea why the pavement on corner of Southesk Street/Park Road was widened? It seems unnecessary and a complete and utter waste of money.”

Haulage contractor Lar Steel agreed with the shopkeepers and said he couldn’t understand a decision which narrowed the road and the turn from Southesk Street.

Lar said: “When there was an island there you could come down the street and drive up Park Road without a problem. You could also come down Park Road and get back on to Southesk Street without a problem.

“There are going to be queues of traffic and people parking on the corners, simply because they are making the road too narrow.”

Neither Mr Steel or Mr and Mrs Lindsay received any correspondence from Angus Council prior to the work being carried out.

However, for some reason, Matthew Neve did.

A letter from the council’s roads traffic manager said: “The A935, Southesk Street/St Ninian’s Place Junction was identified as a site for road safety improvements.

“Junction treatment options were considered and it was concluded that in order to improve pedestrian safety, footway build-outs would be constructed at the junction, thereby shortening the distance for pedestrians to cross the road.

“Works will take approximately two weeks to complete and every effort will be made to minimise disruption

“Residents are kindly requested to find alternative parking while work is being carried out.

“Pedestrian access will be available to all properties but for health and safety reasons if work is being carried out directly in front of an access, barriers will be in place around the working area.

“To ensure your protection and that of others you are asked not to move these barriers. Should you require access to or egress from your property while work is being carried out there you are asked to attract the attention of a member of the workforce who will assist you.”