TRAFFIC wardens have been ordered not to slap fines on motorists in an Inverness street – because the parking signs are invalid and council workers are too busy fixing potholes to find time to take them down.
The "yellow peril" has been instructed to turn a blind eye on Greig Street until a maintenance team can get round to putting up correct signage.
The move has left B&B owners scratching their heads wondering how they can convince their guests to ignore the signs and assure them they will not get a ticket.
"Surely the council can do better than that," said Acer Glen Guest House owner Stephen Bowsher.
"I can quite believe they’re busy fixing potholes but are they really expecting me to turn around to a guest and say ‘I know what the signs say but that’s OK, you can just ignore it? People are not going to believe it."
The curious situation comes after the council performed a u-turn in September on a controversial decision to restrict parking between 8am and 6pm – even on Sundays.
The rules were relaxed to allow parking up to 10am and after 5pm – plus all day Sunday – after guest house owners complained it would damage trade at the central spot.
Some B&Bs have racked up bad reviews on Trip Advisor and other websites over the tight parking rules which force guests to get up early and wolf down breakfast so they can shift their cars by 8am to avoid a parking ticket.
However, almost a whole year on and the old signs have not yet been replaced leaving guest house owners "absolutely livid" and complaining that they have to deal with grouchy guests who leave bad comments on key tourist trap websites.
The council’s response is to tell traffic wardens to pay no heed to the signs – because it does not know long it will take to free up manpower to change them.
The short-term "solution" has really got the goat of guest house owners. "I feel like taking a pen and just going around and changing the signs," said Arafeh Alashi, who runs The Quaich B&B on Greig Street.
"It would save money and time. I could nip to B&Q and get stickers and change the times. That would take all of 20 minutes."
Mr Arafeh received a phone call from the council just over a fortnight ago "apologising and promising me that the signage was going to be installed within a week or two".
He added: "I’m very upset about this. I know the council is trying but they’re not trying hard enough. It’s one street, four signs, it’s not exactly the whole of the city centre."
Kenneth Mackay who owns nine-bed Melrose Villa at 35 Kenneth Street, said: "The council promised us nine months ago they were going to do this. We are absolutely fuming. People are spending a lot of money here and the council are not helping us one iota. They’re destroying all attempts to reinvent the city centre with this palaver."
The council said the signs cost about a tenner each but it was struggling to free up workers to put up signs as they were "extremely busy" making road repairs.
A council spokeswoman said: "We are waiting for operatives to be available to change the signs.
"The priority is the maintenance of the roads infrastructure and they are extremely busy on this task therefore we wait for them to be made available to change the signs. When the staff are available the signs will be changed. In the meantime our enforcement team have been instructed not to enforce before 10am and after 5pm."