Councillors have said they are “optimistic” about resolving a dispute over a dilapidated car park in Neilston after receiving a petition signed by more than 150 people.

Residents have become increasingly frustrated over the state of the car park behind the shops on the village’s Main Street, which has fallen into disrepair since it was sold by East Renfrewshire Council to the shopkeepers as part of a deal when they purchased their units.

The retailers have said they can’t afford to foot the bill for the repairs and have offered to sell the car park back to the council for £1 – but the deal has stalled because the local authority wants them to pay all the legal fees.

With the two parties at loggerheads, Sarah MacArthur, of Millview Meadows, has written to the council to plead for a compromise.

She also convinced 171 other Neilston residents to sign a petition in support of her plea.
Mrs MacArthur said she was motivated to act after the council resurfaced the access road into the car park, which it owns, and created a new turning bay.

She added: “There were four days of disruption for a road that had nothing wrong with it, not even a pothole. Given the disruption and the fact that everyone and their auntie uses that car park, I thought it would have made much more sense to tarmac the rest of it and then it would all be done.

“There are plenty of roads here that could do with work but that one was fine. It seemed like a waste of resources.

“I know the car park is privately owned by the shopkeepers, who say it’s quite expensive to have it re-done. I thought surely they could come to some arrangement with the council, not leaving all the cost to the small shop owners?

“I’ve subsequently learned the council and shop owners are a bit gridlocked but it’s a space that is used by absolutely everyone in Neilston.

“If they put a barrier up and stopped people using it, the village would suffer and the shops would suffer.”

Mrs MacArthur said that, as someone who lives in Neilston and regularly uses the Main Street shops, she has been left annoyed by “the stupidity of it all.”

“I understand the council doesn’t have a bottomless pit of money but it all seems a bit unfair on the shopkeepers,” she added.

“They provide a fantastic service and they need our support.”

Mrs MacArthur submitted her petition in October and, after a bit of prodding, received an answer last week from council leader Tony Buchanan, who said he was hopeful the local authority would be able to “agree on a solution” with the shopkeepers.

Councillor Paul O’Kane, who represents Newton Mearns North and Neilston, has also written to Mrs MacArthur to say he was “happy to facilitate discussions with a view to finding a solution.”

He added: “This would most likely have to involve a degree of town centre funding from the Scottish Government or another external funding source, as the council has experienced significant reductions in its funding over recent years and would set a difficult precedent by funding the resurfacing of what is legally in private ownership, notwithstanding the arguments about the public use of the car park and the benefits to local businesses and amenities, which I fully understand and appreciate.”