Council says ‘yes’ to independence march

Supporters celebrating the go ahead for an independence march in Oban on June 15.

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Councillors have approved an independence march in Oban next month despite an attempt to stop it.

Between 1,700 and 2,000 people are expected to turn up in the town on Saturday June 15 to take part in the procession, now leaving from the Longsdale car park at 2.30pm.

The march will pass through Breadlebane Street before joining George Street and ending up at Mossfield stadium for a rally.

Originally the council had planned to shut off the two car parks at the Corran Halls for protesters to be dropped off by buses and gather before making their way through the town centre.

There were concerns expressed by police, Argyll and Bute Council officials and some councillors at a civic hearing on Monday that the event could cause a lot of disruption to townspeople going about their everyday business, to people trying to catch ferries and to emergency services.

And there were ‘high risk’ worries that the march could cause traffic tailbacks into the national speed limit zone and would need a rolling roadblock put in place.

There was also discussion about the march reverting to its original time of 11.30am to try and ease congestion, but organisers insisted people needed time to travel to Oban.

Councillors were reminded by march supporters that Oban already copes well with 4,000 people for the Argyllshire Gathering and 4,000 daily during Oban Live, and even a parade in the dark for the Winter Festival that includes Santa, a sleigh and reindeer.

If Councillor Alistair Redman’s attempt to get the event rejected had been successful, Argyll and Bute would have been the first local authority to do so, which would have been ’embarrassing’ said march supporter Campbell Cameron.

It was Oban councillor Roddy McCuish who suggested Longsdale car park be used as an alternative muster point, freeing up the car park at Corran Halls. He also came up with the alternate march route to cause less disruption.

His motion was passed by four out of six councillors. Councillor George Freeman  seconded Councillor Redman’s proposal.

Similar All Under One Banner marches, likened to a family festival of fun’ have already been held in Dumfries, Dundee, Inverness and Edinburgh.

Oban police inspector Mark Stephen told the hearing an appropriate policing plan would be put in place.