Oban town centre could have its own dedicated site to cope with the influx of visiting motorhomes brought on by the Covid crisis.
Councillors believe it could help displace the large numbers of vehicles which have been illegally parking overnight at the scenic Ganavan beach.
The costs of providing basic services at the beach to allow campervans to enjoy overnight stays at Ganavan were considered at yesterday’s Oban Lorn and the Isles Area Committee meeting.
A traffic order banning the vehicles from parking overnight between the war memorial and the entrance to Ganavan car park was being considered.
Councillor Julie McKenzie brought forward a motion calling for a traffic regulation order prohibiting parking along the Ganavan road and installing parking bays for cars at the area known as “Wee Ganavan”.
She suggested the committee note the costs of providing services at Ganavan and the fact that there is no available budget for it.
Her motion called for a paper to be brought to December’s area committee examining the costs of providing infrastructure within the town centre and CCTV at Ganavan.
Her proposal also included the introduction of 24-hour charging at Ganavan car park, where currently overnight camping is forbidden. The proposal would include the two free hours currently offered.
However an amendment was brought forward by Councillor Mary Jean Devon, who felt they could displace motorhomes to other areas of the town.
Ms Devon’s amendment called on the committee to “agree that it would be more advantageous to utilise land already in the ownership of the council and which is not at present generating income for us, for the purpose of campervans and caravans.”
She continued that having all campervans in one area with the necessary facilities would avoid displacement to other parts of the town and pointed out that Lochavullin car park in the town centre was one option.
Ms Devon’s amendment received three votes, while Ms McKenzie’s also received three.
The casting vote for the amendment was carried by stand in chairman Jamie McGrigor.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Devon said: “We have to look at the whole picture. Oban is a huge tourist area, it is gateway to the isles, the seafood capital of Scotland. We should have a big facility. We currently tell tourists what they can’t do but not what they can. They can still drive out and enjoy sunsets at Ganavan.”
Ms McKenzie said: “I’m greatly disturbed by the decision taken at the area committee and the manner of its execution. I’m totally perplexed as to why an alternative was brought in at the eleventh hour in what can be best described as a cynical plan to stop any positive progress for the implementation of workable solutions for the issues of health and safety being experienced in the Ganavan area.”
The total cost of providing motorhome bays and services at Ganavan was estimated by officers to be £43,500.