NOTEBOOK BY BILL HEANEY
The Shows are coming to the Common. Their comeback will take place from April 23 until May 2 – but not everyone is happy at the prospect.
The organisers claim to have assured residents and councillors that they would work to cut down on anti-social behaviour.
But they’ve got a major job in their hands, them and the police who have had problems keeping the peace in the past.
The Shows have a reputation that goes long before them into the middle of last century when they were notorious for trouble and police had to arrest people in the large open space that now also accommodates the Meadow Leisure Centre.
Friday nights especially saw police having to be deployed to control the trouble makers who weren’t there just to win a coconut or a goldfish.
One woulds think that “objections” would be taken to mean that people were against this incursion of unacceptably loud music and loud mouths into Dumbarton.
However, West Dunbartonshire Council, who appear not to understand that a large percentage of the local population is against this, has approved proposals for a funfair at Dumbarton Common – despite protests from residents in Hamilton Street, Bonhill Road, Williamson Avenue and Meadow Road.
A public entertainment licence for a fair at the Common between Saturday, April 23 and Monday, May 2 was granted, after the applicant promised to work with residents to reduce any issues caused by noise or antisocial behaviour.
The application received three objections from locals, who highlighted concerns after previous events led to fighting in the streets, attendees urinating in gardens and heavy lorries and equipment left areas of the Common churned up and muddy.
Speaking to members, local resident Kenneth Goodwin outlined his concerns, saying: “I do not want to present myself as some sort of killjoy. I believe that fun is a very good thing, and the more of it the better.
“I am conscious that the funfairs, like many other businesses, are emerging from a very difficult time with restrictions.
“My objections are not on the grounds of the funfair, but rather on the choice of location. Those of us who have lived by the Common for many years have a vivid awareness of the history of the shows. And it is not a good experience.
“Not just urinating in our gardens, but on a regular basis running battles which spilled into our gardens. On occasion I remember having to rescue individuals from being chased by other members of a rival gang.
“We are worried that, even after many years, a similar situation might recur.
“Even if it did not, the Common is not a suitable location for heavy vehicles and heavy equipment. The Common floods easily and the ground is soft. Even the council’s tractors can leave deep gouges.”
However, in response applicant William Taylor reassured residents that a controlled entry system would be in place, and that he and his family would work with the community to prevent any problems arising.
Mr Taylor said: “We will encircle the whole fair with fencing so that there is only one entrance. Mr Goodwin mentions worries about the grass area.
“On that area, as we did years ago, we used the hard surface where we assembled all the heavier rides.
“In the middle section we had lighter kiddies rides and catering units. What I normally do when it comes to noise is notify houses in the vicinity and give them some telephone numbers.
“They are asked if unpleasant noise occurs to phone up and it will just take a second to turn down the volume system.
“The way we’re operating now, with a paid entrance system and wristband, is very different to the funfairs of yesteryear.
“I am happy to speak to Mr Goodwin every day and work together to make sure everything is okay for those in the local area.”
The licence was unanimously granted by councillors.
Picture: The way we were. The Shows in Dumbarton Common on days gone by.