Staycation hell warning for Oban

Camping debris from last year. Photograph: Sophie Leatherbarrow

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All hell will break loose when Oban re-opens to staycationners, councillors have been warned.

Despite reassurances from Argyll and Bute Council’s Head of Amenity, Roads and Infrastructure Services Jim Smith that funding has been allocated and work is under way to manage the staycation surge across Argyll and Bute, there are still concerns.

The council has announced an £830,000 fund to deliver benefits for staycations as part of its latest budget with resources including waste disposal, fresh water points and wardens to promote responsible camping.

There were more than 150 responses to a survey sent out to community councils to help identify where hot spots are going to be.

Members of Oban, Lorn and The Isles (OLI) Area Committee, who met on Skype last week, were not satisfied with a region-wide response and have called for more specific information.

Councillor Roddy McCuish said councillors did not get the answer they were wanting from Mr Smith that Oban would have a ‘robust scheme’ in place this summer.

Oban Community Council member Duncan Martin warned: ‘When lockdown restrictions are lifted and visitors come back, all hell will be let loose.’

As well as waste disposal facilities for caravanners and campervanners, parking restrictions and warden-type rangers to keep a roving check on visitors are potentially just some of the measures to be brought in.

Oban Community Council chairman Marri Malloy asked for its members to be kept updated.

‘We still don’t know how the Ganavan car park will be managed. It seems it will be by traffic wardens but who is going to be there overnight when the campervans come at night and sneak out in the morning?’ she asked.

OLI Area Committee chairman Councillor Elaine Robertson said June as a date to bring in Oban’s new traffic regulation orders to control parking would be ‘far too late’ adding to other issues the town will be facing this summer. She has asked if the new rules can be brought forward.

Councillor McCuish told the meeting his fear was that the area was not going to be ready for the staycation season.

‘The papers are full with ‘Come to Scotland’. It really does concern me that we are not going to be ready for it. I really don’t know what’s going to happen to us. It’s good to see there is money from the Scottish Government to help the town re-open and that there are talks ongoing with BID4Oban about a waste water facility but the problem is everyone wants one but no-one wants it near them.’

Councillor Julie McKenzie welcomed a report by Argyll and Bute Economic Growth Officer Craig Wilson on plans for dealing with visitors saying: ‘It’s clear my stance is that we need to provide a warmer welcome than we are at the moment. We need to provide motorhome facilities.’

Councillor Jamie McGregor said the influx of visitors will increase problems with parking and flagged it up as ‘an emergency situation’. He said more signs needed to be put up in hotspots like Lochawe to avoid congestion and said he believed talks are ongoing in communities, including Appin and Glen Orchy, and with farmers about providing campsites.

Councillor Robertson said ‘the majority of people want to do the right thing’ and suggested the council should also be talking with Scottish Water and the Forestry and said she hoped there would be some way of ‘accelerating the pace’ of getting ready.

‘I hope we can find some means of accelerating the pace so we at least at a minimum have some facilities in place for this summer.’

Tobermory has taken delivery of its new parking regulation signs and they will be going up soon. ‘We’ll be able to tell people what they can and can’t do,’ she said.


Caption: Camping debris from last year. Photograph: Sophie Leatherbarrow
NO F06 Kinlochleven abandoned rubbish