Ganavan fines could be just the ticket

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A Ganavan resident so worried about health risks from dirty overnighters has offered to be a voluntary ticket warden.

Frank Roberts made his ‘desperately concerned’ plea for a better managed Ganavan car park to members of Oban Community Council at its last meeting.

Mr Roberts said residents have witnessed ‘disgusting scenes’ and ‘totally wreckless behaviour’ this year by some who camp overnight in their vehicles.

He also hit out at Argyll and Bute Council as being ‘wreckless not controlling this’.

On August 15, he counted 18 campervans and four tents pitched at the back of the beach, he said, adding: ‘I’ll happily volunteer to be an unpaid traffic warden. In 10 minutes, I could have them all ticketed.

‘I’ve seen awful behaviour, some I’ve photographed. No one should have to deal with what some of our council employees have to deal with. My main concern is the major health risk. It’s been so bad this summer that I would discourage my grandchildren from walking on the beach.’

Reports of bad behaviour have including urinating, defecating, spitting after brushing teeth, littering and vandalism.

Oban councillor Kieron Green said he realised it was ‘an incredibly difficult situation’ and had seen first hand some of the issues, with one unhappy camper threatening to run him over.

Archie Clark, who is also a Ganavan resident, voiced worries about how the council would be able to manage the car park if they follow up a motion that could see some onsite camping allowed along with providing basic facilities such as a tap and waste waster disposal.

‘How are they (the council) going to manage that if they can’t manage it at present?’ he asked.

Oban, Lorn and Isles Area Councillors are waiting for council officials to come back to a special area committee meeting on October 14 with reports investigating and costing work that would be required if basic services were provided for overnight campervans at Ganavan, and bring recommendations, including consultations with the community and other stakeholders so the issue can be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

There was more discussions about more monitoring of the car park and ticketing of overnighters.

‘Two years ago it wasn’t an issue. We had a parking attendant out first thing on the morning issuing fines. Trust me, if that happened again, it could be an easy fix.’

Councillor Green said an assurance had been given there were plans on getting people out to check every other morning but said he would ask how many mornings so far an enforcement officer has been out.

Bid4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence said sending out wardens every morning and issuing tickets would generate income: ‘If the council doesn’t want to manage it, give it to another organisation to run it and it will be sorted out. The council is just sitting on its hands.’

Councillor Elaine Robertson, who is chairperson of Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee told the meeting the motion to get officers to bring back a report on the Ganavan problem was done in ‘good faith’ and only ‘the beginning of us trying to do something to improve this intolerable situation and the irresponsible behaviour that has happened over the summer’.

Oban community council chairperson Marri Malloy said the best answer for Ganavan was ‘don’t turn it into a caravan park’.

Discussion followed on other options such as turning the town centre Lochavullin car park into an overnight provision with infrastructure to cope for basic needs.

But Councillor Green warned that car parks such as Lochavullin would not have the same draw. ‘People will always go to Ganavan for the view,’ he said.

The meeting heard how Tobermory had put together a working committee to sort out the chaos campervans were causing the Mull village. In the next couple of weeks, new temporary traffic order signs will be put up in its centre and campervans will be banned from parts of the village.

A proposal for Oban Community Council to set up its own steering group to help find a solution for Ganavan was agreed.

Dirty camping problems are not unique to Ganavan, some campers have also been leaving rubbish and discarded equipment including tents strewn at beauty spots along Loch Creran and in Glen Etive.