Melrose caravan park boss far from in seventh heaven

Melrose Rugby Club’s plans to turn its annual sevens tournamentinto a four-day event are a cause for concern for the boss of a nearby caravan park.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 10:03 am
The Gibson Park caravan site in Melrose.

John Smith, manager of the town’s Gibson Park Caravan Park for the last seven years, attended last week’s meeting of Melrose Community Council to voice his worries.

He told councillors he couldn’t quite believe what was being planned, especially on a weekend when his park is a big favourite with families.

He said: “I just got back to work recently and to see the club is looking at putting a 60m-by-20m marquee on Gibson Park, yards from the caravans, and to make it a nightclub for three nights until 1am, I was stunned.

“And with Big Country playing on the Sunday night, it’s not going to be a quiet weekend away.

“Our members book up to a year in advance. We have Easter booked up with families, some of whom don’t even know what the Melrose Sevens is.

“It’s going to be chaos for our staff and our members.”

Mr Smith also mentioned the problem of security.

“There is also a bar in the triangle area across the road, but only people with tickets can use the toilets,” he said.

“It turned out our toilet block was their first port of call.

“Last year, that proved really problematic for us as our warden was surrounded by around 100 youths all wanting to use our toilets.

“He couldn’t do anything to stop them and they were even urinating on the caravans.

“I was left with a £5,000 bill as the barrier at the club’s entrance was broken by people climbing on it.

Mr Smith said he had asked the rugby club if they could supply the caravan park with some of their security.

He said: “They told me we will have to put our own security on as their own security only have jurisdiction in their own grounds.”

Mr Smith also said he had worries about closed roads into the town as anyone coming in towing a caravan would find it difficult to do a three-point turn in order to come in a different way.

Community council chairman William Windram invited Mr Smith back to the council’s next meeting, taking place on Wednesday, February 19, at 7.30pm in the Ormiston Institute.

Mr Windram added: “Every time we contact the club, they have a slightly different plan as they try to address concerns. For instance, there is no longer going to be a temporary stand.

“We will see the club’s representatives next month to see how they are going to address these issues.

“The final details have not as yet been fixed.”

The rugby club’s operations manager, Alan Wilkinson, told us: “Our aim is to create a really entertaining few days for everyone involved and we’ve been overwhelmed, by the positive response from most of the community.

“Of course, we acknowledge there will be instances where we will have to work very closely with certain businesses and residents to ensure their specific concerns are addressed appropriately.

“There are, rightly, strict rules and regulations around noise pollution, and we will ensure those regulations are adhered to.

“We would hope all visitors to Melrose between April 9 and 12 will have a thoroughly enjoyable time and that many of them will be return visitors in 2021 and beyond.”