Parking bedlam at some of Stonehaven’s most popular spots has prompted safety concerns from business owners and locals.
Visitors to the town’s idyllic beach have been confronted with vehicles left on double yellow lines, in clearly marked no-parking zones and by the corners of junctions.
The cars have been blocking visibility and forcing other drivers into dangerous positions.
The issue has been particularly prevalent over the summer when visitors flock to check out the famous local chippers and the dramatic coastline.
And with the Stonehaven Harbour Festival coming up this weekend – likely to be among the busiest days on the town calendar – the beach parking predicament could be about to come to a head.
Attempts to rein in parking Wild West
Earlier this month, the police were prompted to pay a visit after concerns were raised by the community.
More than 20 drivers were stopped and given a warning, with a community beat officer on the scene saying many of them were unaware that double yellows were enforceable by police.
But business owners say only one thing will alleviate the pressure for good: more permanent parking in Stonehaven.
“We desperately need a car park somewhere, there’s definitely not enough parking spaces,” said Molly’s Cafe owner Janice Langdon.
“I just don’t know where. It needs a multi-storey, I think.”
One of the main issues, she said, is a turning area where drivers are sometimes forced to mount the pavement due to cars parked there – “an accident waiting to happen”.
She is also one of the people running this weekend’s festival, and said “it’s good to get it back up and running” even if she conceded parking will be an issue.
She added: “I think people will be parking all over the place on Sunday because obviously, we are closing off part of the harbour to traffic.
“I think they’ll be parking all over the High Street and Dunnottar Avenue, which is fine, as long as they don’t park right at the junctions.”
‘Absolute chaos’ at Stonehaven beach
Andrew Crawford, the owner of Drifter’s Cafe along the coast from Molly’s, agreed that there was “absolutely” a shortage of parking spaces in the town.
The car park at Market Square is often “chocka”, he said, and things have got worse since Spaces for People measures took away a number of spaces on the Beach Road.
“Sometimes it’s absolute chaos,” he said, “and other times there’s loads of parking available.”
Stonehaven councillor Dawn Black, who also works as a driving instructor, posted a series of videos on Facebook earlier this month.
In them, she highlighted some of the most egregious examples of drivers disregarding regulations around the town.
She showed vehicles parking in front of recycling bins and other parked cars at the leisure centre, while several were left next to a very conspicuous ‘no parking’ sign.
Man and woman injured near beach
There was renewed attention on Stonehaven’s roads earlier this month after a 76-year-old man and 80-year-old woman were hit by a car on the Beach Road.
The pair were injured in the incident on August 9, and police later announced they were investigating.
Mr Crawford said he did not notice any illegally parked cars on the day of the incident, though.
And a temporary car park set up by the council at Baird Park has meant those driving in no longer have to try and find room on the seaside route.
It is thought that the end of the school summer holidays should also mean fewer cars.
But there are calls to bring in measures to properly fix issues before the visitor numbers start rising again next year.
Stonehaven parking report on the horizon
Local resident Allan Sutherland said it was unlikely a traffic warden would patrol such a short section of double yellow lines.
He suggested: “They should have a sign up there, saying these lines are here for emergency access. Please don’t park there.
“My view is that most people wouldn’t park, people would obey that.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said the local authority’s Stonehaven Traffic Management Review is looking at the Beach Promenade.
A report will be going before the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee later this year.
He added: “In light of high visitor numbers flocking to Stonehaven beach, a temporary overspill car park was opened at Baird Park earlier this month for public use.
“While this will not solve all of the parking issues in this area, it is hoped that this car parking area will be well used and will help alleviate some of the localised congestion.”