CARDROSS residents have hit out at a decision by religious leaders to limit access to a church car park to parishioners only.

The site on Darleith Road, across from the historic St Mahew’s Roman Catholic Church, has been blocked off by a locked barrier installed in December to prevent anyone parking on the grounds except for those attending church services.

The car park had regularly been used by villagers when going for walks nearby, acting as a popular stop-off point for dog walkers, visitors to the area and parents making the short journey to Cardross Primary School.

Scott Elliott, who lives just outside the village and near to the church, told the Reporter he and many of his fellow residents were “appalled” by the “mean spirited act” to restrict parking.

He said: “I would hope the church will have conducted an analysis of how the car park is used but, if this is the case, I am surprised they have decided to install a locked gate, given its use by the community.

“Surely a sign stating they need access on a Saturday evening [for Mass] would have been worth a try before resorting to this measure, which will have – and has had – a negative impact on the community of Cardross and beyond?

“It is a disappointing response to a parking issue, given the difficulties people are facing at the moment.

“I just don’t understand why and how this decision was taken.”

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: The chapel of St Mahew is one of only four mediaeval churches which have been restored to their former useThe chapel of St Mahew is one of only four mediaeval churches which have been restored to their former use

Patrick Trust, convenor of Cardross Community Council, said “considerable disquiet” was expressed at the organisation’s recent meeting regarding the closed car park, and those concerns had been passed to the church.

The chapel of St Mahew, built in 1467 and restored in 1955, stands on one of the earliest Christian missionary sites in Scotland and is run by the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said: “The decision to put in place a barrier to the car park at St Mahew’s was taken to ensure that the space is kept free for those attending services in the church on a daily basis.

“Such services can become very busy at weekends and when funerals or weddings are taking place in the church.

“By ensuring there is a good provision of parking for church-goers there should be less parking pressure on surrounding streets.”