THE Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 prohibits encamping in a road. But there is no sign that can lawfully be put up to say so.
Such was the information impasse reached at today’s meeting of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee, where councillors were trying to find a way to deal with the concerns of Cowie residents, who fear their main access road could be blocked by a combination of motorhomes, cars and the land train.
The matter had previously been discussed at the December meeting.
David Armitage of the Infrastructure Services department explained that, following investigation, none of the suggested alternative locations was suitable for overnight parking.
The leisure centre car park was discounted because of the need to comply with fire safety regulations – as the area would then be considered a camp site. The community centre car park was ruled out because of inadequate barriers protecting the drop.
And the continuing use of the Beach Road and beachfront could not be formalised as road regulations forbid encamping on a road.
Councillor Sarah Dickinson said: “I am really struck by the fact that right at the centre of this, you are not allowed to encamp on a road, yet this is exactly what is being done.”
Mrs Dickinson pressed for the replacement of a ‘no overnight parking’ sign, saying one had been in place until June 2017.
But Mr Armitage said this would not be possible as the road traffic regulations prescribed what signs can be erected – and the list does not include the one wanted by Mrs Dickinson.
Councillors were clearly confounded by the situation.
Councillor Alison Evison said: “There must be some way we can have something helpful.”
And Councillor Ian Mollison said: “The council has put up notices saying ‘don’t feed the seagulls’, why can’t we put up signs saying please don’t park here?”
To which Mr Armitage said: “Because they are not directed at drivers.”
The discussion then batted back and forth with no clear agreement of the scale of the problem. Councillor Wendy Agnew said neither the Fire Service nor the Coastguard felt the motor homes were causing a problem. But Mrs Dickinson said she feared a ‘perfect storm’ of camper vans, coaches and the land train, which could delay the arrival of emergency services.
Councillor Colin Pike was the first to say he was feeling frustrated by the amount of time being put into the issue, adding councillors had no information about the extent of the problem. And he questioned the merit of investing more resources into the matter by conducting a traffic management review.
Councillor Sandy Wallace said: “At the moment there is nothing I want do. If there is a problem we can come back and revisit it – look at the problem and balance up the benefits the motor homes bring to the community.”
Finally, though a number of their colleagues supported their motion for no further action, the seven councillors voting in favour of requesting a traffic management review for the Beach Road/ beachfront area of Stonehaven won the day.