BUSINESS leaders have slammed Renfrewshire Council over plans to ban parking outside shops in Johnstone town centre.

The temporary move is being introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with pedestrians given more space by preventing cars from stopping beside the pavement in parts of High Street and other central areas.

But it has angered bosses at two of Johnstone’s oldest family-run traders, who described the decision as “nonsensical” and warned it will hit businesses at a time when they are already struggling.

Allan Henderson, who is chairman of the Johnstone Business Consortium and owns Hendersons Flowers, in High Street, said the council’s lack of consultation over the restrictions – which are also set to be enforced in other Renfrewshire towns – is “very unprofessional.”

He told The Gazette: “We only found out from other sources a few days ago.

“It will have a direct adverse effect on businesses.”

Mr Henderson’s concerns were echoed by fellow High Street trader David Marshall, who is joint owner of John Marshall and Son butchers.

He said: “What the council is doing is nonsensical. Parking restrictions just won’t work for us because of the deliveries we depend on, including large sides of beef and other heavy items.”

More than 100 metres of the northbound carriageway of High Street, between Collier Street and George Street, have been earmarked for the restrictions.

Parts of Church Street and William Street could also see parking curbs and there are similar plans for Elderslie, Renfrew and parts of Paisley.

Councillor Derek Bibby, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch, is urging the local authority to perform a U-turn.

He said: “If the proposals are implemented as indicated it will simply mean the problem will move, with people parking at other locations such as Morrisons, Collier Street, Walkinshaw Street and Parkers Way.”

Cllr Bibby also has concerns about the ability of buses to navigate the corner of High Street and Church Street.

He added: “It is based on a two-metre social distancing requirement but it is likely that, before long, we will be moving towards reducing this, so one wonders whether this is the best use of resources in tackling the implications of the easing of lockdown.”

However, council chiefs have defended the temporary widening of footways, which will remain in place until they are “no longer required.”

A spokesperson said: “We are working hard to keep all residents safe during the coronavirus pandemic and we have secured funding to widen a number of footways to ensure the correct physical distancing can take place.

“This will assist businesses and shoppers who may require to queue outside and ensure that our pavements are wide enough to allow people to shop safely.

“All businesses affected by these changes were visited as part of the process and we will continue to work with them to ensure they have the support they require to maximise footfall, while maintaining the appropriate health and safety measures.”

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