Illegal overnighters fined at Ganavan

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Nine fines have been issued since July to illegal overnight campers at Ganavan.

Argyll and Bute Council says while the ‘overwhelming majority of visitors’ use Ganavan responsibly, which is ‘really appreciated’, there are ‘unfortunately’ a small minority of people who ignore the rule prohibiting using vehicles overnight for camping or sleeping purposes.

‘Where there are breaches, our wardens issue fines,’ said a council spokesperson.

The fines are £60 and are discounted by 50 per cent if paid within 14 days.

But there are concerns that wardens are not appearing often enough, especially early on weekends when the problem of overnighters peaks.

The council spokesperson said staff visit Ganavan throughout the day at weekends and are on site to open the toilet each morning and either attend to or report back any issues.

The site is then attended in the evening, with the toilets locked and cleaned along with a litter pick.

‘Our wardens cover the whole of Argyll and Bute and are primarily there to manage car parks and densely populated areas,’ added the spokesperson.

‘Since July, we have issued nine fines. Each fine is £60 and is discounted by 50 per cent if paid within 14 days,’ she added.

But people living nearby and Dougie Graham, who runs the snack van at the car park, say the problem of overnighters is reaching crisis point and argue it is more than ‘a small minority’ flouting the ban.

More concerns are also being raised about the health and safety risks left by some people defacating and urinating behind the public toilets locked at night and by those who brush their teeth and spit it out.

One morning last week there were 12 overnight campers, said Mr Graham.

He told The Oban Times he is ‘on pins’ about some ‘dirty’ campers behaviours and says he is not alone, with nearby residents now taking regular photographs of vans and motorhomes ignoring the overnight camping ban.

‘They are defacating and urinating and leaving their waste which piled up. They brush their teeth and spit everywhere. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. This is most worrying. There’s no track and trace – if it was an official campsite they would be required to leave their details. Who knows what they are leaving behind for the good people of Oban and other day visitors when they move off elsewhere? There’s no knowing.

‘I’d say the situation here has reached crisis point. The other day I watched one man do an oil change on his van here. Some can be aggressive if you approach them, you have to be careful or you could end up with your teeth in your hands. I’ve never known it to be as bad as this before. I’ve had to change over my vans so I’ve got the one with 24-hour security here now,’ added Mr Graham.

One woman who lives at Ganavan said although she had seen some parking fines issued to overnighters, it seemed only to be happening on week days and was not happening at weekends which was disappointing.

Oban, Lorn and the Isles councillors are looking for solutions to the Ganavan problem.

Ward councillor Julie McKenzie says the time has come for’ a more sensible, long-term approach to be taken on Ganavan.’

‘There is no dispute that Ganavan has been impacted by a variety of issues over the lockdown period, however the majority of people who enjoy the area do so responsibility, and we cannot allow a minority engaging in irresponsible behaviour to spoil things for everyone.’

And she added: ‘For me the immediate solution for Ganavan is straightforward and begins with adequate provision of infrastructure for camper-vans, alongside education and tough enforcement for anyone found flouting legislation. Longer term, I believe that an organised community-led initiative for the area could provide the most sustainable way forward.’