Letters to the editor – 13.8.20

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A big thank you

Martyn’s Monday Club (MCC) has been emotionally touched yet again by the very generous support and backing from everyone,  particularly all the tradespeople who gave us their very valuable time to help open our new premises in Breadalbane Street, Oban.

We have to say thank you to them all but it just does not seem enough as their effort and kindness will never be forgotten. We at MMC cannot thank them all enough, they have made our vision a reality.

MKM Builders, Stewart Twort Joiner, Maurice Lockhart Electrician, Craigard décor, Howdens kitchen, Ross Muir Joiner, David McPhee Website design, Adrian Cakebread, Tina, Arran and Amber MacMillan, Colin Thompson, TJ Flooring, William Martin, Steven Carson (Delivery), Jewson’s, Connor Nichol, Norman Steeman, Rexel Electrics, Hire and Supplies Ltd (tools), Cafe Shore, Art and Sea custom vinyl graphics, Buildbase Oban, Richard Dale, Matrix computers.

We have also had endless hours of labour and supplies. Thank you once again,

Diarmid MacMillan, MCC Founder/Facilitator.

Columnists views

I write having been touched by the heartfelt offerings of your columnists. It was indeed thought-provoking to read once again of the concerns of Mr Thornber regarding inappropriate land ownership: and outwith the letters page, to once again marvel at his lore of the days of the great estates and all their benefactors who owned them to much local appreciation. The community I grew up in Lewis felt quite differently about the local estate.

No less striking was Angus MacDonald’s recent column. I thought it very insightful to read his description of NI, paternity, maternity, health and safety, and holiday/sick pay as ‘worrying’. From his self-regard it must be that Mr MacDonald will have never had any sort of government grant, though perhaps he would acknowledge that workforce education and the maintenance of a built infrastructure are themselves forms of subsidy. I can only assume, too, that such a titan of industry with a disregard for public funding will have turned his face away from the significant UK and Scottish financial Covid support?

Craig Macmillan, Corpach.

Inconsiderate camping

I live in what is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, the village of Kinlochleven, on the iconic West Highland Way and a stone’s throw from majestic Glencoe. We have our fair share of tourists and the associated problems they cause but this year takes it to a new level.

After being unable to come here throughout the lockdown we are now inundated – many campsites and hotels are still closed so ‘wild’ camping is the order of the day. This apparently involves pitching a tent as close to the road as possible on any spare scrap of land, people’s gardens or work sites being fair game.

Unfortunately, the majority of visitors do not use bins or toilets (do they not have these at home?). I can only assume they come up here because they’ve already ruined any nice areas near where they live.

Bring back the lockdown, I’d rather deal with one virus than hundreds of people determined to turn my home into the inner city s**t hole they come from.

Aire-ing solutions to influx of motorhomes

There is never any excuse for vandalism. There is never any excuse for leaving litter behind. There is never an excuse for punishing everyone because of the actions of a few… and especially when you cannot tell exactly who was responsible.

Therefore I was disappointed to read that a barrier was being proposed for Ganavan Sands when all of the facilities to easily create a Motorhome Aire are already onsite – and would pay back the investment along with securing the future of the public toilets.

Aires are overnight parking spots for motorhomes- with or without water and waste disposal facilities – and usually paid for. They are very common on the continent.

Readers only have to look a few miles south of Oban to see a dedicated motorhome facility that’s been created to cater for the demand for overnight parking at Ellenabeich – directly to take the pressure off locals.

Before councillors make a kneejerk reaction, maybe providing paid-for facilities would bring much-needed revenue into the council.

Donald Macdonald, Founder of Campaign for Real Aires.

  • I am writing in response and concern to the recent article in the Oban Times calling for the banning of campervans and motorhomes parking overnight in Oban, and wanted to offer both my sincere sympathy for your plight, but also an alternative view.
    First and foremost, there is no excuse for badly behaved overnight parking, and I can understand your desire to deter this. However, there is an opportunity here not to be missed. Motorhomes and campervans are largely self-sufficient, meaning they don’t need access to toilet blocks, electric hook-ups etc on a daily basis – my van can go four days before I need to empty tanks, in a designated area, of course).
    This means that the traditional model of a campsite is outdated and will oftentimes not be used. As an example, I recently visited Oban to see my brother with my van and on enquiring at local campsites was quoted £35 to park my van overnight. Now, I don’t need or use electric hook-up, toilets, showers or washing up facilities as I have them in my van already, so would have been paying £35 for a patch of ground for the evening from around 10pm until 8am the next morning. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s overpriced for what’s required.
    In lieu of this, I parked (respectfully, not illegally or in front of anyone’s house etc) nearer to town overnight for free. Because of the saving I was able to have a lovely dinner in local restaurant Baab, drinks in Marky Dan’s, as well as buying breakfast rolls and candles from the small cafe on the harbour in the morning. I also was able to do a litter pick along the front because of where I was parked. Many campervanners and motorhomers will agree that being stuck on a site makes them less likely to eat or drink in town, thus lessening support for local businesses.
    The alternative I propose is a French-style Aire set up. Aires are widespread and numerous in France and almost every town or village has one. It is a designated parking spot for campervans and motorhomes, near to towns to allow people to have a one-night stop-off and support the local economy. Most are paid for (around €5-€15 per night) and some are free, with some having chemical toilet and water facilities included in the price. For a more local example, I would like to direct you to The West Harris Trust’s motorhome provisions on Harris. For £5 sent via PayPal or in an honesty box, people can park their motorhomes or campervans overnight, and for a further £3 can use toilet waste and water facilities. Here is a link: www.north-harris.org/?page_id=7366
    This is a very well established example and is making some well-deserved profit from campervans who would usually stop somewhere for free. In a poll posted on a well-established campervanning Facebook group with thousands of members, 81 per cent of people stated they were happy to pay £5 to stay overnight somewhere designated, with the rest of the votes coming from people stating other amounts ranging from £1-£15.
    You can find the group here and will see that each member is committed to clean camping, supporting local economies and leaving no trace.
    So you can see there is a positive outcome to be had here. I urge you to see both sides of the argument and capitalize on our custom in Oban.
    Lucy Boyle, by email.
  • What is it about the nature of some in our nation that let the action of a minority ruin a golden opportunity for local communities.
    I am like many others a responsible campervan owner who was, up until today when I was made aware of your article, planning a trip to the wider Oban area in the next week.
    I am self-sufficient in my van, affluent and love spending money in local communities. I have decided to take my business elsewhere. When I compare this somewhat parochial attitude to the forward-thinking French village and town approach of providing basic campervan facilities, I just shrug my shoulders…The majority of campervan owners are over 50 and affluent.
    I’m no business development manager or marketing expert but I’d guess these are the kind of people that a forward-thinking town would want to attract to spend money in their town?
    Campervan ownership is booming and will continue to grow. It’s clear to me that some communities will provide facilities and take advantage of this trend while others will slam down the shutters – on a golden oppertunity.
    Greg Forbes, Kinross.