TOWN centre traffic coronavirus restrictions by council bosses have sparked uproar from angry traders and shoppers.

Roads chiefs are under fire after they blocked on-street parking spaces with cones to allow pedestrians more room to observe the two-metre social distancing rule.

They said the width of pavement areas in places like West Blackhall Street in Greenock, Gourock's Kempock Street, Kilmacolm village centre and Princes Street in Port Glasgow had to be expanded amid potential for increased queuing and busier activity.

But shop-owners say the decision has completely overshadowed their reopening this week after three months of lockdown.

In Greenock, management at Joseph Harley Florist's were incensed by the restrictions, branding roads bosses 'a disgrace and an embarrassment'.

A statement on their Facebook page said: "Local shops were allowed to open after 96 days closed and you do this.

"What a kick in the teeth!

"Why did our pavements become too narrow the day we opened?"

Kilmacolm ward councillor David Wilson also attacked the decision and said over 100 constituents had complained.

He said: "This 'emergency' no parking on the street in Kilmacolm has caused outrage.

"There are cones out everywhere and it is a slap in the face for hard pressed shopkeepers.

"They are unnecessary and will hurt businesses."

MSP Jamie Greene sent a letter to the council's head of transportation and roads saying he too had been inundated with complaints.

Mr Greene said: "I struggle to see how we can purport to encourage a 'shop local' message whilst introducing these restrictive measures.

"The scenes from Greenock and Gourock on Monday morning resembled a ghost town.

"My inbox is full of complaints ranging from elderly or immobile shoppers who have no choice but to drive to shops, through to concerned local business owners who find the move crippling.

"Some businesses had little or no consultation on the proposals and were horrified at the swift implementation of them.

"One shop in Gourock said their footfall had reduced by 50 per cent by lunchtime.

"We should be introducing measures to support growth in local shopping, not prohibiting it or making it more difficult.

"These plans are not just unpopular but entirely unhelpful."

Inverclyde Council says the temporary measures were introduced to support physical distancing to ensure the safety of shoppers, staff, motorists and the wider public, as well as a 'safe and sustained restart of the local economy'.

A council spokesman added: “Pavements in these areas pre-date social-distancing and therefore the two-metre rule can be difficult to adhere to, especially when people may have to queue outside shops because of limits on the number of customers allowed inside at any one time and increased footfall due to the easing of lockdown restrictions.

"Pavements will be busier and we also have a duty to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities who have had to stay indoors during lockdown for a variety of reasons but may now be tentatively stepping outside for the first time in several months.

“That is why temporary parking restrictions were put in place on our high streets, simply to extend the space outside shops to allow people to keep their distance safely without having to walk out onto oncoming traffic.

"Additional or alternative parking spaces are available nearby and parking enforcement remains suspended until August to support businesses and residents.

“Council staff have been monitoring the situation closely since shops reopened on Monday morning and have been listening to feedback.

"In light of that, some of the temporary measures have been lifted or adjusted to reflect the level of footfall."

The council says it will continue to monitor the situation and 'make adjustments' where necessary.