Councillor Colin Wyper at Kirkcudbright Harbour
A ban on public access to Kirkcubright harbour is being proposed on health and safety grounds.
The council is considering giving the harbour master powers to stop anyone from entering the quay when he feels “operations are sufficiently busy to present an unacceptable risk”.
The proposal was revealed in an email from the authority’s infrastructure boss James McLeod to Dee ward councillors on Monday.
One, Councillor Colin Wyper told the News he was stunned by the “out of the blue” move.
He said: “I am totally against this. I have spoken to people who work on the boats and nobody knows anything about this.
“I also put it onto Facebook and everyone was against it.”
He added: “There is no need for this – I used to work on the boats about 40 years ago and there were no problems then and I’m not aware of any since.
“I could trip when I’m walking along the street and split my head open so are they going to ban people from walking on pavements?”
According to the council the proposed change, which will see automatic barriers and temporary chains put in place, is required to comply with the Port Marine Safety Code.
Pedestrian and vehicular access would then be at the discretion of the harbour master.
And, as things stand, the council has no intention of consulting members of the public about the scheme.
In his email Mr McLeod, who acknowledges the public have not been involved in any accidents at the quay, said: “I do not consider we should consult as much as inform of the limited restrictions required to operate the harbour safely.”
Kirkcudbright Community Council provost Lesley Garbutt is unhappy at the proposal and predicts an angry backlash from the community.
She said: “I personally am against this and I imagine there will be serious antagonism towards it once word gets around.
“When we were doing the consultation for the future of the Harbour Square area one of the key things was that there was no restricted access to the harbour.
“There are so many other things the council could be looking at. We have potholes you could lose a car in and I think they need to look at their priorities.”
Councillor Wyper claims that an access ban could hit Kirkcudbright’s tourism industry.
He said: “I have looked on Google Maps and the only other harbour in Scotland that might have this is Girvan, where they don’t let cars go into the bottom half. People come from cities so they can walk around the harbour and see the boats come in.”
A council spokesman yesterday confirmed that the restrictions were being considered.
He said: “A report has been produced by the council highlighting concerns over health and safety at Kirkcudbright Harbour.
“The report suggests that pedestrian access is restricted only at times when the harbour is particularly busy with lifting operations and the movement of forklifts.
He added: “Council officers are meeting with local members next week to discuss the report.”