Lossiemouth residents were taken by surprise when a popular road linking the two sections of the harbour in the town was blocked by bollards at the weekend.
The sudden appearance of the bollards at each end of the lane linking the west and eastern ends of the harbour sparked anger with initially Moray Council being blamed.
However, it has transpired that the local authority had no part in the decision for a road that is privately owned by the Elgin and Lossiemouth Harbour Board.
Community councillors in the town were every bit in the dark over the plans to block the road as were the general public, although local businesses were informed of the plans. Vice-chair of the Lossiemouth Community Council, Carolle Ralph, had not been aware of the move, saying she was as stunned as most of the town when she realised that vehicles were no longer permitted to use the road.
Mrs Ralph started a lively discussion on the move through her Facebook page on Sunday, saying: “I cannot believe there are posts up now stopping us driving from one harbour to another – absolutely cannot understand what this will achieve apart from traffic chaos as people are forced to reverse back.
“All my life we have driven round both harbours as do many, many local folk and tourists.
“No consultation at all on this – I know that this Harbour Board property but what a major mistake for Lossie.”
Local councillor John Cowe confirmed that the local authority were aware of the plans and that talks had taken place between the Harbour Board and the council’s roads department.
However, as the road has never been adopted by Moray Council they had no authority to stop the bollards being put in place.
Councillor Cowe said: “I had impressed upon the Harbour Board chairman George Reid the damage this could do to the petrol station, restaurant and shops along the front who are his tenants and that it could damage their trade.
“His opinion was that it would give them extra parking and the road was dangerous with cars taking the corners on the opposite side of the road.”
One resident shocked by the appearance of the bollards was Isobel Smith who said: “Do they not realise how many older people cannot get out and about and enjoy a run around the harbour?
“In many cases it is their only outing – not everybody is capable of going for a walk, I include many retired fishermen in this so am very disappointed.”
Donna Milne, the chair of the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust, put forward an alternative suggestion on the issue, saying: “While there is a lot more traffic nowadays than there once was I do feel that more consideration should have been given to the effect this could have on local businesses.
“Perhaps a one-way system would be a better idea than blocking the road entirely to traffic.”
Last night the chairman of the Lossiemouth Community Council, Mike Mulholland, said that he was aware of the concerns in the town over the sudden closure of the road. He said: “Clearly there are concerns amongst residents over this.
“Members of the community council and Councillor John Cowe will seek a meeting with the chairman of the Harbour Board to discuss the issue.”