More than 1,300 people have called on Aberdeenshire Council to remove controversial social distancing measures from two Banchory streets over fears they are damaging businesses.
The local authority was awarded £310,000 from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund to fund temporary infrastructure projects to allow for sufficient social distancing measures in its busy urban areas.
Various road closures, one-way systems and other initiatives have been put in place in Ellon, Fraserburgh, Inverurie, Peterhead, Stonehaven and Banchory.
But many residents in Banchory have accused the council of harming the income of local shops and businesses on High Street and Dee Street with the removal of car parking spaces to widen pavements.
A petition asking the council to take away the pavement widening measures on the two streets has now attracted more than 1,300 signatures.
The Banchory Business Association has also backed the petition, and last night chairman Ian MacIntosh argued the changes had gone too far.
Mr McIntosh said he has had feedback from the owners of one shop on the High Street that has stayed open throughout lockdown, who said they had noticed a downturn in income since the Spaces for People measures were implemented.
He said: “Its owners have openly stated they have seen a reduction in turnover since the cones were put in place.
“With more people out in the street their income should have increased, but when the car parking restrictions came in that knocked them back.
“Businesses are being killed here in within the town centre.”
Councillor Peter Argyle, chairman of the authority’s infrastructure services committee, said: “This scheme is designed to protect public health and to encourage people to go back into Banchory town centre knowing that it is a safe place to go with proper social distancing measures in place.
“I do not believe that the measures themselves are having a major impact on businesses, as there’s still masses of free parking in Banchory.
“We’ve lost a few spaces on Banchory High Street, but frankly it was quite difficult to park there anyway because the spaces are usually taken.
“We’ve said all along that if there are changes that need to be made to make the system more effective, then that can certainly be looked at.”