A Forfar community figurehead has called for a strategy to avert the town becoming “Boulder City”.
In a reference to the lawless worlds of the old Wild West, community council chairman Isobel Ross made made a plea for a multi-agency meeting to grasp the thorny issue of Traveller encampments as locals continue to watch and wait over the next move for a group pitched up on the town’s country park.
The issue of illegal encampments has been at the top of the local agenda since May, and Mrs Ross said she believes the time has come for a summit to look at putting pressure on the Government for help in dealing with the issue.
The community council found itself in the firing line earlier this year when residents vented their anger at the body after being refused the opportunity to air their complaints about a group of more than 20 caravans that had been parked on Strangs trust ground at Montrose Road.
The Gowanbank area residents attended a meeting of the body the night before a planned eviction of the Travellers and, because the issue was the subject of live legal proceedings, the community council chairman read a prepared statement but was unable to offer a public debate on the situation.
Mrs Ross said that she shared public frustration over the problems arising when Traveller groups park up.
“This is a very emotive issue,” she said.
“It is not enough to just sit and complain about it, we have to make a determined effort to do something about it and I think we should be looking at trying to get all our heads together on this.
“A whole lot of agencies the council, police, MSPs, the fire service, elected members and community representatives are all involved here.”
Mrs Ross said she had received complaints about the latest group, which is camped near Forfar’s pitch and putt course and the car park that is popular with dog walkers going round Forfar Loch.
Angus councillors last week instructed the authority’s legal department to begin eviction proceedings against the group.
“It is public ground that is involved here and whether it is Angus Council or the common good fund, someone has to pick up the tab for clean-ups and so on,” continued Mrs Ross.
“We just can’t have Forfar turning into Boulder City. There are sites in Angus, so why are they not there? If those places are full, then why can’t they move on to the next one?”
Forfar dog walker Brian Fleming is one of those infuriated by lack of swift action to tackle the problem.
“I go round the loch twice a day and it’s terrible what has been going on there, firstly on the other side and now near the car park.
“There are vehicles all over the place, gas cylinders beside a residential area, the dogs are making a mess and I saw one man doing the toilet in the grass.
“They are making a complete mockery of the authorities. Other people just wouldn’t get away with it,” he said.