A petition calling on a local authority to remove all pavement widening measures from a north-east town has reached more than 1,000 signatures.
Aberdeenshire Council has put social distancing measures in several of its town centres after being awarded funding from the Scottish Government under the Spaces for People Fund.
In Banchory, it has put cones on parking spaces up and down the High Street and Dee Street to increase walking space for pedestrians.
However, residents and business owners are against the measures and have created a petition, with the hope that they will be removed.
Created by Banchory Action, it states: “We require Aberdeenshire Council to remove all pavement widening measures from Banchory’s High Street and Dee Street.
“These measures are not required as the pavements on the High Street and Dee Street are wide enough to allow people to pass safely.
“These pavement widening measures with the associated removal of parking spaces are having a detrimental effect on local shops and businesses.”
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Councillor Rosemary Bruce commented on the post on social media. She said: “There are mixed views within our community about the proposals, but I do think that it is important to create the space for our residents and visitors to be able to walk along the High Street with the space to social distance, particularly if there needs to be people queuing outside shops as well.
“The plans have been amended since the first draft. Both the Banchory Business Association and Community Council took part in the initial discussions and were broadly in favour of the plans.
“I asked for additional disabled spaces and bike racks, and the council also consulted with taxi drivers and space has been retained for them. There seems to be widespread support for the 20mph speed limit.
“Removing the parked cars from the High Street will make it safer to cross the road due to improved visibility and will have the added benefit of a clearer view of the shop frontages.
“At an online meeting on Tuesday, I asked for additional signage on the High Street to say that the High Street is open for business and to park in the car parks.”
Katharine Canning, who owns Copper & Grey on Banchory’s High Street, said: “It probably works quite well on paper but I feel there needs to be more of a balance between boosting the local economy and keeping people safe.
“People aren’t queuing for miles outside all the shops in Banchory and even before coronavirus that wasn’t the case.
“It seems like the council is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“I have to explain to customers on a daily basis what the cones are actually for. One woman came in the other day and asked when the roadworks were starting.”
“It’s really disappointing. It seems to be a universally unpopular initiative.”
The petition, which can be found by visiting https://bit.ly/2OCn9br, has so far attracted more than 1,400 signatures.