Bid to stage campervan rally in Hawick rejected due to coronavirus fears

Councillors have shown the red light to plans for a campervan rally in Hawick due to public health concerns.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 20th July 2020, 5:11 pm
Campervans in Hawick's Common Haugh car park.
Campervans in Hawick's Common Haugh car park.

Approval was sought for 20 campervans to take part in a gathering at the town’s Common Haugh car park for three days from Thursday, July 30.

Currently a maximum of eight campervans can stay there but only for up to 48 hours, so permission was needed for the extra dozen vehicles proposed.

Opinion was split over that application at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s Hawick common good fund sub-committee today, July 17, with three members in favour and three against, but chairman George Turnbull’s casting vote went with the latter.

Opposing the application, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said: “I have concerns about this, to be honest. I agree that it would be wonderful for the town and provide trade for shopkeepers, but how do we know that these people are not coming from areas that have Covid problems?

“We’re in the midst of a global pandemic here, and people are still catching it and getting hospitalised.

“I don’t mean to be obstructive in any way, but I have a lot of problems with this, to be perfectly honest.”

Members were told that the organisers of the event were willing to keep a register of all those attending, so track-and-trace checks could be done, but that assurance failed to sway councillors.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage also opposed the bid too, saying: “I just feel we have to err on the side of caution here.

“We have a community that has made huge sacrifices. We couldn’t have a common riding or Burnfoot Festival, and my concern is the title of a caravan rally. We are told 20 caravans may attend but don’t know the exact number.

“My concern is a backlash from the community if there were a large number coming to the haugh and the fact that if they had been drinking,t they may not socially distance.

“I understand the benefits, but are we not being too early with three days at the end of July when we are not allowed social gatherings?”

Voting in favour, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer said: “In the last week or so, we have actually seen quite a number of motorhomes and caravans parked at the Common Haugh, so actually the area is being used anyway and all we are being asked to do here is endorse a group of people who want to come to the town, who are desperate to visit our town, so I’m hugely encouraged by that as long as everything is safe and secure.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall was also in favour, saying: “If it did go ahead, it would be great for local businesses, and I think it would be welcomed as long as it is policed and is safe.”