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The organisers of the Oban fairground will not be returning to Lochavullin car park this year, because, they say, Argyll and Bute Council put up the rent to ‘£12,000’ – the ‘most expensive’ they have seen in Scotland.
Locals outraged by the claims posted on the Information Oban Facebook page last Friday (May 13).
One of more than 100 comments said: ‘It should be rent free, as it’s bringing something to the area for the kids. Let’s face it, there ain’t much in Oban for young children or teenagers.’
When Tom Evans, who runs Evans Family Funfairs, contacted Argyll and Bute Council to rent the same site at Lochavullin car park as last year, he says he was told: ‘You can have it, but it is £12,000.’
Mr Evans said: ‘It’s astronomical – crazy’, adding that the rent last August was ‘nothing like that’.
He continued: ‘My family have been coming to Oban for 100 years. My father and grandfather brought the shows to Lochavullin, the same site they want £12,000 for.’
The quote to rent the Oban site, he added, was the most expensive of all his shows in Scotland. ‘Even the Duke of Argyll at Inveraray did not charge that amount of money,’ he said.
‘Before Covid, it was in Mossfield Park. I am hoping to get into Mossfield, but I might have to change the dates. If I can get into Mossfield Park it will be in September.’
An Argyll and Bute spokesperson said: ‘The car parking area was used last year due to Covid and we were able to offer a special dispensation because of Covid regulations.
‘The customer contacted us requesting use of the car park again this year and, as per council fees and charges, we advised that the cost is £7 per day, per bay.
‘The customer would need to inform us how many bays they require and this would reflect the overall fee.’
Debate raged on social media following the post about why Oban had paid car parks, and other places in Argyll, like Campbeltown, Ardrishaig, Garelochead, Cardross and Tobermory, do not One person called it ‘discriminating against the people of Oban’.
Newly re-elected Oban North and Lorn councillor Kieron Green explained: ‘It’s not been the decision of Oban councillors that some car parks elsewhere don’t charge while people pay here.
‘It ultimately comes down to demand for parking – in Oban there is a high demand. If the car parks were free they would be packed every day, with many people using them for long stay.
‘To meet that demand you’d have to spend millions building larger car parks, which would encourage more people to drive into town and use up space which could be used for housing, shops.
‘Meanwhile in more remote areas with low demand you would struggle to get back the cost of installing and maintaining car parking machines due to low usage.
‘The majority of car parking income for Argyll has come from the Oban car parks in previous years.’