Campervan ‘carnage’ at Ganavan Sands

Ganavan proved very popular at the weekend because of restrictions being eased coupled with warm weather. Pic by Philip Hatfield.

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Council bosses have come under fire for failing to put in place measures to stop campervans flouting the rules at Ganavan Sands.

With travel restrictions now lifted, ‘carnage’ returned to the Argyll and Bute Council car park at the weekend despite concerns having been raised since last summer, a meeting of Oban Community Council was told on Monday night.

In defiance of the overnight parking rule, some visiting campervans stayed for three days and there were complaints of nine very large camper vehicles dominating car parking spaces, members were told.

Toilet waste was carelessly disposed of due to a lack of facilities and noisy generators were left running for hours, while rubbish piled-up by council bins, community council members heard.

Convenor Marri Malloy said recent talks between council bosses and a community council sub-group had been a ‘waste of time’.

The only vague solution being new signs or a height barrier, although no one knew ‘when or if’ it would happen, she said.

Ms Malloy called for the latest problems to be urgently raised with Jim Smith, head of amenity services at the council, which is the second largest local authority area in Scotland.

And prominent local councillor Roddy McCuish added that the inability to get ‘simple things done’ was one of the main reasons he planned not to seek re-election next year.

He said Ganavan had seen ‘carnage’ again at the weekend and he was ‘beyond frustration’.

‘We have known this was coming, it has already started and heaven help Ganavan this summer,’ said Councillor McCuish.

Management and enforcement at the car park has been high on the agenda, with repeated calls for action after last summer’s staycation free-for-all.

At a recent meeting, local representatives tabled potential suggestions including an offer of volunteers to help ‘police’ the car park.

Community council member Frank Roberts said: ‘We got nowhere in that meeting. The council officers were very, very good at telling us what we couldn’t do and didn’t seem prepared to come forward with any serious suggestions of what could be done.’

Community council member Neil MacIntyre called the situation a ‘nonsense’.

‘We’re the biggest tourist area on the West Coast and we’re sitting here arguing about toilets not being open and where to put waste. This is 2021, this should all have been sorted,’ he said.

The meeting heard that despite a pledge by Argyll and Bute Council to use Scottish Government funding to recruit ‘rangers’ – Ganavan should not expect them any time soon.

Member Dougie Graham told the meeting he understood that interviews had not yet taken place and staff are not expected in post until mid-June. There are also concerns they would be directed to parking troublespots at Helensburgh and Inveraray.

The council was asked about this but would only say it is ‘in the process’ of recruiting four seasonal wardens.

Councillor Elaine Robertson appealed for ‘patience’ and said the council was ‘definitely looking’ at installing a barrier, that new signage was on the way, and that there had been a ‘sea change’ in the council’s mood.

Argyll and Bute Council said in a statement:  ‘We continue to urge visitors to use official campsites, to help support the local economy as well as protect their own health and the health of local communities.

‘Ganavan car park prohibits people from using vehicles overnight for camping or sleeping purposes. Unfortunately there are a small minority of people who ignore this rule and where there are breaches, our wardens issue fines.

‘Our wardens cover the whole of Argyll and Bute and are primarily there to manage car parks and densely-populated areas. We are working with the local community to address these issue and where we see people in breach of traffic regulations we will act.’