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Local horse riders welcome Dunnet beach parking correction


By Jean Gunn

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The control of use sign at Dunnet beach which was put up around August 10 by the Highland Council's parking services to allow enforcement of misuse of the car park. This picture shows the taped off trailer restriction, altered on August 25.
The control of use sign at Dunnet beach which was put up around August 10 by the Highland Council's parking services to allow enforcement of misuse of the car park. This picture shows the taped off trailer restriction, altered on August 25.

Local horse riders have welcomed changes to a parking sign recently put up at the main beach car park at Dunnet which excluded trailers.

Concern had been expressed when the signs first went up stating that trailers were among a list of restricted vehicles.

Fortunately Caithness councillor Nicola Sinclair, once alerted to the problem, was quick to the get the notice amended and the trailer restriction was taped over at Dunnet.

"We received a number of queries about the new signage erected by Highland Council, which prohibited parking of trailers," councillor Sinclair said.

"As previously discussed with the community, local councillors support the use of trailers and recognise the needs of people who ride horses at our beaches. As such, we asked officers to correct the signage, and this has happened now."

She was also keen to reassure people that the consultation on car parking charges was cancelled due to Covid-19 and there were no plans to restart it.

Thanking councillor Sinclair for her swift action in sorting the issue, local British Horse Society access representative Donna Mather said: "Horse riders in Caithness are very relieved to know that they can still use the car parks for their horse transport to access the beaches.

"It is really important that riders can continue to use the beaches as safe off road riding in Caithness is very limited and the beaches are a safe haven from traffic."

Local rider Lesley Forrest is among those thankful that the council took prompt action to correct the sign. She said: "It is a great relief that horse riders will still have access to the beach."
Local rider Lesley Forrest is among those thankful that the council took prompt action to correct the sign. She said: "It is a great relief that horse riders will still have access to the beach."

She suggested that it would be helpful if the exemption to horse lorries and trailer was highlighted on the signs as some people might think equestrians were ignoring the restrictions, which is not the case.

Recently someone who parked their horse lorry in the main beach car park at Dunnet received some negative comments from a member of the public.

Donna added: "A possible solution might be for horse riders and other vulnerable road users to be given a permit for their transport to stop the public from thinking that they are parking without permission."

A Highland Council spokesperson confirmed: "A number of signs have been put up in car parks across Caithness over the last few weeks. These are statutory control of use orders and the Highland Council are required to put them up.

"This is part of a programme of work that has been rolling out across Highland over the last two years. The current signs are based on standard terms that apply across Highland.

"Please note that in line with community feedback, horse trailers and vehicles are permitted to use specific Highland Council car parks."

The car park signs state: "Parking of vehicles manufactured or converted for the purpose of sleeping between 10pm and 8am is prohibited."

This means that vehicles such as campervans and caravans cannot stay on a location overnight and this is enforceable by Highland Council parking enforcement officers.

However signs that state "no overnight parking" on a public road have no regulatory status and cannot be enforced.

If anyone has any concerns about the signs they should email parking@highland.gov.uk



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