THE MORAY HARBOUR owners under fire for blocking a road with bollards without consulting their local community has hit back at claims their move was unnecessary.
In a statement released in response to increasing pressure from community leaders, including Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead, the Elgin and Lossiemouth Harbour Company said that the reason they took the action to block the harbour road in Lossiemouth was linked to a “near disaster”.
A petition signed by thousands of residents called on the bollards to be removed, citing an accident-free record for many years and insisting that closing the road to traffic was harming local businesses and tourism in the town.
The Harbour Company has never given a specific reason for their action, but they are now reacting after a fruitless meeting with Mr Lochhead reached no conclusion – with the MSP saying that it was perhaps time a new look was made at the ownership of the Harbour.
In a statement the company said that they took their action because of continuing speeding in the area and a “near fatal accident”, adding: “The final incident was last September when a vehicle was taking the corner too quickly as a young family pushing a pram was walking along the pathway.
“The car had to swerve immediately and do an emergency stop to avoid colliding with the family head-on. The harbour company takes safety of pedestrians on its property very seriously – measures had to be considered before a serious accident or fatality occurred.”
Mr Lochhead accepted that it was “sensible to respond” to near misses by reviewing safety, however, he said that the issue remained that not enough consideration was given to alternatives to complete closure of the road.
Campaigners against the closures pointed out that the Harbour had been without a serious accident for over a hundred years. They have also insisted that the bollards themselves have presented a great hazard with more near-misses being caused by large delivery lorries being forced to reverse along the harbour road when making deliveries.
A spokesman for the Lossiemouth Community Council said that the issue was “never really off” their agenda, adding: “We expect to discuss the latest developments at our next meeting when we will also be keen to hear the views of our new Councillor, who as a former fishing skipper has a great deal of knowledge on the history of the Lossiemouth Harbour.”