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The search is on to find a new Oban site for September’s visiting fairground.
Tommy Evan’s Hamilton-based family have been bringing thrill and spill rides to the town for more than 150 years but this year they have hit a hitch.
Traditionally the fairground takes up residence at Mossfield car park but that space has been lost to a Covid testing station that arrived back in December and will now be staying until the end of the year.
Oban councillor Roddy McCuish is trying to save the day and find an alternative site for the fairground but says he is struggling.
One possibility, however, could be the Lochavullin car park near Tesco.
Mr Evans said: ‘Oban people look forward to us coming and we look forward to it too, We grew up in Oban, so a lot of people know us and we know them. We wouldn’t want to disappoint them. Roddy is doing his best for us.’
The fairground travels across Scotland, including Campbeltown and Inveraray where permission is granted by the Duke of Argyll for the rides to go on the green at the shorefront of Loch Fyne.
In the past the fairground has moved around Oban, originally at Lochavullin and also on an area where Tesco now stands.
‘We are keeping our fingers-crossed we find a place. We haven’t officially been told Mossfield is ruled out but we can’t be there if the testing centre is still there. We have got time on our side until September but didn’t want to leave it too late.’
The walk-through coronavirus testing centre opened at Mossfield car park in December.
At the time the UK government said it would stay in town as long as it was needed, open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm and part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities ever created in British history.
Councillor McCuish said: ‘It’s causing a bit of a problem. The car park is needed for a number of events that might still go ahead this year. Originally it was thought the testing centre would only be here until April but now it looks it will be here at least until December. The ideal solution would be for the testing centre to move lock, stock and barrel temporarily elsewhere so the space could be used as events need. After generations of the fairground coming to Oban it would be a shame if the testing centre stopped it.’
Organisers of what would be the 150th Oban Games at Mossfield Stadium are still planning for it to go ahead on Thursday August 26 but are looking for alternative car parking nearby.
Games steward Paul Nicoll said the games going ahead all hinges on receiving good news from the Scottish Government on a Covid recovery grant and any official announcements from Nicola Sturgeon closer to the time.
‘At the moment we are planning as if the games are still going to go ahead. We’re hoping to hear about the grant in the next week or so. Basically the grant would underwrite any money we pay out for the games if it has to be cancelled. We’re a charity and can’t afford to lose on it. We also depend on what announcements are made by Nicola Sturgeon closer to the time. It may be that we have to call it off for this year and wait for a 151st anniversary celebration instead.
‘We know the athletes are keen for it to go ahead, the heavy athletes in particular, and the Highland dancing. We’ve also had an email about the piping,’ said Mr Nicoll.