This summer could be the last time the fair travels to Stornoway following new council policy prohibiting the use of car parks for more than one day.
The fair was due to set up in Stornoway next week to coincide with the Lewis Carnival. But in June the Comhairle decided: “Due to high demands on parking within Stornoway Town Centre, the car parks on South Beach and North Beach are not to be taken out of use, other than for single day events.”
Although alternative land has been suggested, the site of the former Shellfish Building, fair-ride owners say this is unsuitable due to the size as well as the proximity of the road and bus station.
This means it will be set up in South Beach car park next Friday night (3rd August) at 6pm and run on Saturday (4th August) with an extended licence to 9.30pm. In previous years it ran from Tuesday to Saturday night.
It also means that the £1,500 donation made by the fair-ride owners to the Round Table will be lost.
Fair-ride owners say this will most likely be the last year they come to Stornoway. Damion Bateman, who is already on the island with his fair-rides explained with transportation costing around £3,000 he can’t see a way to make it financially viable to travel to Stornoway again.
“I can’t make the expenditure. It’s going to cost me this year anyway, it’s going to cost me to get back home.”
He went on to say: “Anywhere out of town is not really going to work. With the carnival and the market, it all fits in together.
“For the small children there’s not really much for them to do. I feel for them.”
Lynette Macintrye, whose late brother initially brought the fair to Stornoway said: “Certainly we’ll miss it. I’ve got friends I’ve made up here.
“It is nice to know my brother was so well thought of up here.
“We used to do the Uist games. We’ve been travelling in the Hebrides for 20 years. We love it here.”
She believes the council should have made exceptions to the policy allowing them to be at the South Beach car park for longer than one day. She also said the local support, which includes a petition in shops a Facebook group has be fantastic.
A council spokesperson said: “They have been allowed to use the South Beach car park along with the Stornoway Round Table carnival event for the period of the existing car park closure.”
He went on to say: “The fair organisers did not seek the permission of the Comhairle or provide advance notice of their intention to set up in Stornoway. Had they contacted the Comhairle in this respect they would have been made aware of the policy.”
He explained: “The policy was established in order for the car parks, streets and amenity areas within the Stornoway Town Centre to be managed effectively, taking into account the needs and desires of the general public.”
Let us know what you think about the possibility of the fair not returning to Stornoway. Do you think they should be allowed to use the car park at South Beach for longer than one day or has the council made the right decision to prioritise parking? Join the debate on Facebook and Twitter.