AN historic photo showing the Barrfields Putting Green on Largs Esplanade is proof that a car park could be built next to the Vikingar, a local businessman claimed this week.

John Corrigan has been calling for a new facility on the green to provide hundreds of spaces and make the town more attractive to bus tour companies and visitors.

Mr Corrigan set up a petition to support the move which attracted the support of 80 other business.

The old picture of the esplanade doubling up as a putting green comes from 1939-45 after the area at Barrfields was taken over by the armed forces as a seaplane repair base.

Mr Corrigan said: "It just goes to show you that the putting green could be moved locally.

"It has been done in the past and it could be done again, It is a nice stretch of greenfield area.

"Where I want a new car park is only a five minute walk to the town centre and would be sizeable enough to attract tour bus companies back to Largs.

"The only strong opposition to the idea has been from the residents at Millennium Court. "It is the only common sense option as far as I can see to provide the spaces we need in the cheapest possible way." Mr Corrigan said that while making the Gateside Street car park a paying facility would help to businesses in Aitken Street, it does not go far enough.

Mr Corrigan was also critical of the council moving to purchase a car park in Bellman's Close.

He added: "What is the point in the council spending money on a car park which was already there? We are looking for more spaces. I'd rather see money get spent on building something to ease the parking crisis.

"We need to be able to absorb tourists when they come on a nice summer's day like Braehead does for people shopping at Christmas."

Mr Corrigan pointed out that other seaside towns on the west coast such as Troon, Oban and Ayr don't have a major trunk road going through its town centre and says Largs needs to look at different ways of dealing with traffic and congestion during busy periods.

However Labour councillor Alex Gallagher, chair of the North Ayrshire economy portfolio, defended the council's move to snap up the car park, which has been closed off in recent months.

He said: "It is a good move by the council. It will also be a pay facility and the money raised from that will go towards North Ayrshire as opposed to the car park going into private hands."

The Bellman's Close facility was due to be resurfaced but a council spokesman told the News this week that NAC were still in negotiations with the owner for the takeover.

Parking in Largs and North Ayrshire is to be decriminalised later next year with council traffic wardens taking over enforcement action.