A man who moved to Lossiemouth from Glasgow after becoming besotted by the scenic seaside town fears it has become “less friendly” since a popular access road was blocked off.
Douglas Coutts relocated to the town in 2004 having enjoyed holidays in the area since his youth.
But the 55-year-old’s fondness for the town has been dampened by Lossiemouth Harbour Board’s decision to install bollards at its port, cutting off what had been a well-used driving route.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) project manager says relatives who visited over summer believed the roadblock – along with “no access” and “residents only” signs – gave visitors the wrong impression.
The bollards were erected at each end of the lane, which links the west and east ends of the bay, in February, but traders around the harbour have blamed them for declining summer profits.
However, port chiefs maintain the bollards are necessary to ensure pedestrians remain safe.
Mr Coutts, who regularly drove by the shoreline in his blue SLK-class Mercedes-Benz, believes he was the first resident to discover the divisive roadblock, which was erected without any public consultation.
He said: “I think I was the first person to encounter the bollards on the morning they were installed, and I thought they were some sort of practical joke.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I can’t see any need for them there.”
He added: “I work with the MoD and had always thought that one day I’d love to get a job up here as it’s a wonderful place.
“Like many locals, I was especially fond of driving around the harbour until it was blocked off.
“I really think this takes away the friendliness and openness of the town.
“Relatives who visited from New Zealand and England this summer said they think it has destroyed a uniqueness that we once had here.”
Last week Moray MSP Richard Lochhead met with the harbour bosses to appeal with them to remove the roadblock, but the board refused to reverse its decision.
Shore Street petrol station owner John Thomson described the failure of the talks as “another nail in the coffin” for Lossiemouth.
A harbour authority spokeswoman said the issue would be discussed at the board’s next meeting.