We will lose everything

A Newton Stewart businessman has warned members of Cree Valley Community Council that the town is in danger of “losing everything”.

At last month’s CVCC meeting the decision was taken to refuse Taylor’s Pleasure Fairs access to the Riverside Car Park due to complaints the funfair took up too many parking spaces.

Gordon Andrews of the Belted Galloway and chairman of Newton Stewart Business Association, said the loss of a portion of the car park during a bank holiday weekend and the Newton Stewart Walking Festival affected the takings of businesses in the town.

The best alternative site suggested was Minnigaff Park, but Dumfries and Galloway Council blocked that idea after the Taylors wanted to take a fence down to accommodate one ride.

Speaking on Monday night, John Sharples from Creebridge Caravan Park, said: “I came here to support the shows. We have lost everything that came to the town. We lost the (Merrick Stages) rally and now this. We are letting everything slip through our fingers.

“The shows were in the Riverside Car Park before the Belted Galloway was there - even before the college was there. They are only there for a week then they are gone. What have the children of the town got to look forward to now?”

CVCC chairman Tom Greenaway replied: “There is more to this than just the Belted Galloway. The decision hinged on much more than that.”

CVCC member David Inglis said it was “very important” to reassure business owners the community council were keen to get a suitable alternative site so the shows could come back next year.

Jennyfer Taylor from Taylor’s Pleasure Fairs, who also attended the meeting in the McMillan Hall, spoke about the frustration she felt with the local authority after her company had offered to take the fence down at Minnigaff and reinstate it afterwards.

“We are a small family business and this hurts us”, she said, “We have been coming to Newton Stewart for years.”

Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes said he fully understood that the Taylors felt “let down” and recommended she seek advise from the Showman’s Guild. He also advised that the community council organise a site visit to Minngaff Park involving all the interested parties, including a representative of the Showman’s Guild, to discuss and resolve any problems.

He added that he had been sounded out by council officers about relocating the shows to Wigtown’s Lorry Park. But, in his opiion, this would probably be fraught with considerable difficulties as that site was surrounded by the Quaker’s Hall, the Baptist Church and various lock-ups.