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Outrage over cars parked in horsebox spaces at Aberdeenshire beach

Horse rider says drivers using the dedicated bays 'just don't care'.

Balmedie Country Park horsebox and bus parking spaces.
Last weekend the parking spaces for horseboxes and buses were filled by cars. Image: Facebook.

Horse riders at an Aberdeenshire country park have hit out at “lazy” drivers for parking in designated horsebox spots.

Balmedie Country Park has a dedicated parking area which is reserved for horseboxes and buses, however, last weekend all the spaces were taking by cars.

The specific parking spots were put in place before Covid-19 due to the beach being a popular place for horse owners to ride them at the facility.

One woman who spoke to The P&J said she “fears” taking her horse there in case cars are parked up in the designated spots, while the only access for equines has also been blocked too in the past.

Balmedie beach.
Balmedie beach is a popular destination. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.

Retired 65-year-old Jackie Corsie was one of the people that campaigned for Aberdeenshire Council to install specific spaces for people with horses and says the issue can “cause quite a big problem”.

“If the people were still there we would say to them, ‘look, there is horseboxes coming down here and this space is for us because we can’t get through the barrier’.

“Some folk just won’t move, because some members of the public feel that the barriers aren’t wide enough for their car, they are, but they just don’t want to go through.

“A lot of them don’t like being told that they can’t park there because it’s part of the Balmedie Country Park and they think they can park wherever they like.”

People ‘just don’t care’

Mrs Corsie, who owns two horses, thinks people park here because they either do not read the signs or “just don’t care”.

A regular user of the park, who lives between Belhelvie and Potterton, believes that these problems might not have happened when there were full-time rangers to enforce illegal parking.

Jackie Corsie, who uses the Balmedie horsebox parking
Jackie Corsie owns two horses. Image: Jackie Corsie.

“They might’ve put a stop to it,” she said.

In the past, there used to be charges to park at Balmedie Country Park and she says this was “worse”, as people would think the designated area was free to park in as it is located before the barriers.

However, Mrs Corsie said she “wouldn’t mind” if the council introduced parking charges for horseboxes, whilst keeping parking free for other vehicles.

Jackie Corsie on her horse.
Mrs Corsie and her horse are regulars at Balmedie beach. Image: Jackie Corsie.

“I would pay because I think if there was a machine there for that specific area, then people in their cars wouldn’t park there because they wouldn’t want to pay.”

“Some people drive quite a distance to come to the beach and they sometimes arrive and there’s not a space for them.”

Horsebox users travel to Balmedie

Recruiter Julie Skinner, 53, who has one horse and her daughter another says there is “absolutely no reason” for people to be parking in these spaces unlawfully.

“A lot of people come quite a distance to a beach setting to ride a horse and if you’ve come all that way and don’t get to park up and use it, it can be very disappointing. It can be avoided if people just paid attention.”

Mrs Skinner, who lives near Belhelvie, discusses a conversation she had with someone who was illegally parking a car.

“He said, where am I supposed to park? Because I don’t think I can get through’.”

Julie Skinner on her horse.
Mrs Skinner with her horse at Balmedie Beach. Image: Julie Skinner.

“I think it’s one of these things once you’ve got one or two people parked up there then others may be think it’s OK and they’re all parking as well,” Mrs Skinner told The P&J.

Although she says she is “at odds” to why people are doing it, she thinks it may be due to people not wanting to go through the barriers, it being easier to park there, not reading the signage and “being lazy”.

She added that “keyboard warriors” complain about the presence of horses there, but adds: “At the end of the day, those spaces are allocated whether you like horses being there or not, that’s what the spaces are for”.

Like Mrs Corsie, she thinks charging for horseboxes is a route the council could take to resolve this issue.

Aberdeenshire car parking meter.
Could parking meters solve the issue? Image: Heather Fowlie/DC Thomson.

“I think people are glad it’s there and want to be able to use it. I can’t see anybody objecting to pay a few pounds.

“If you can afford to run a horsebox and horse you definitely won’t mind paying a few pounds to park.

Although understanding Aberdeenshire Council’s financial pressures, Mrs Skinner added: “You would think a bit more signage and some parking charges would go along way.”

‘Park in the appropriate areas’

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “The region boasts a wealth of tremendous attractions for visitors to enjoy – be that across our countryside or along the coastline.

“Visiting these areas comes with a personal responsibility to treat them with respect which also extends to the proper parking of vehicles.

“Venues like Balmedie regularly attract horse riders and bus visits, so it is vital that these specific areas are kept free for them to access.

“We would encourage drivers to park in the appropriate areas when visiting Balmedie Country Park or any of our attractions.”