Travellers flock to Montrose for Christian festival

The site on the East Links. Photo by Forbes Inglis.

The site on the East Links. Photo by Forbes Inglis.

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Junior golfers in Montrose were forced off a golf course when a huge influx of travellers pitched camp on the pitch-and-putt.

Travellers pulled up at the course at the East Links in Montrose on Saturday while junior players were being put through their paces.

The session was stopped and the children had to be taken home by their parents because the caravans had blocked off the first hole.

The huge influx of caravans prompted a flurry of complaints.

Around 11 caravans were reported to be at the East Links last week before numbers dramatically increased to around 30 on Saturday.

The massive blue-and-white tent, erected in the middle of the vans, was to play host to an evangelical Christian ‘Tent Revival’ meeting, or series of meetings, attended by the Travellers and their families.

Such events normally require permissions, licenses and Health and Safety inspections in order to go ahead. Without these in place, any meetings would become illegal.

Indeed, Angus Council updated their statement from initially ‘monitoring the situation’ to the following: “We are aware of the encampment at East Links and we are taking legal action.”

The camp, which has been expanding by the day, has caused widespread concern among Montrosians.

Alan Crow, Montrose Golf Links ambassador and former chairman, who lives nearby, said today: “I’ve never seen anything like it and I have been here for 44 years.”

The caravans began arriving from 11.30 am on Saturday until dusk, with a large blue-and-white marquee also being erected on the links. Montrose is a traditional passing-through area for Travellers who regularly pull up at the links every year.

Mr Crow’s wife Janice, is the club’s junior convener, said the Travellers’ presence was “intimidating”.

She said: “We were on the pitch and putt with our little ones when the Travellers started arriving and surrounding us.

“We had to call them all in and ask their parents to take them home. Some of these little ones can smack the ball a fair distance and the caravans were in danger of being smacked. I wouldn’t have wanted any of the youngsters to have been traumatised by hitting a caravan or hitting anyone.”

Police Scotland said they were aware of the presence of the Travellers.

Montrose Councillor David May said: “I’ve contacted the police and would strongly suggest that action is taken as soon as possible.”

There have been several complaints from members of the public about disturbances at the site and on Thursday night police officers were called to the site.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland can confirm that a 19 year-old man and a 15 year-old boy have been charged in connection with an assault at East Links, Montrose on Thursday, May 14 and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

The two men are expected to appear at Forfar Sheriff Court today (Monday, May 18).

See this week’s Review for more on this story.