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Locals in Borgarnes, W. Iceland fed up with travellers camping in parks, on preschool grounds

By Staff

  • Bjössaróló playground Travellers passing through Borgarnes seem to think they can camp wherever they please, for example at playgrounds and public parks. Photo/Sara McMahon.

Growing tourism has raised new and unusual problems for the residents of the town of Borgarnes in West Iceland. According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV travellers have camped out in public parks in the town, on the lawn of public buildings and even on preschool grounds. The town mayor has asked townspeople to show patience and treat foreign travellers with courtesy, as most are considerate.

Clarifying the Police ordinance
The town has issued an announcement to its residents to clarify the municipality's rules on camping, asking residents to call the police if they become aware of travellers breaking the rules. 

"In recent weeks there have been several incidences where residents of Borgarnes have been inconvenienced by travellers who have camped within the city limits or slept in their parked camper vans in public spaces, or in other ways behaved inconsiderably or caused a nuisance. Although these are exceptions there is no reason not to take action."

The statement then goes on to point out several clauses of the municipal police ordinance including the second and fourth paragraphs which states that "indecent behavior in public" is banned. This includes urination or defecation, public drunkenness and being naked in public.

Read more: Farmer in S. Iceland fed up with disrespectful travellers treating his lawn as a public lavatory

One of the things which Borgarnes residents are concerned about is that people who camp outside designated campgrounds do not have access to public lavatories or bathrooms, and are therefore forced to relieve themselves or change clothes inside bushes or otherwise in public view.

The town stresses that the ban on sleeping in camper vans outside designated campgrounds only applies within the town itself: Travellers can sleep in camper vans at rest areas along public highways outside rural ares. 

No excuses for not camping in the designated campground
The mayor of Borgarnestold RÚV that foreign visitors have camped in public parks, on playgrounds and on the grounds of local preschools, despite the fact that Borgarnes has a well equipped campground with a beautiful view.

Read more: Travellers pitch tent in public park next to preschool, think bushes are a public lavatory

The town will respond to this problem with new signs and education.

"This is just unacceptable, plain and simple. We will be putting up new signs on public lawns, by the preschools and by other public buildings to try and control this problem."

The mayor stresses that the town welcomes travellers, and that tourism has been a great boon to the local economy. 

"But we must ensure that there doesn't build up some bad blood between the local residents and foreign travellers, only because some of them seem to behave inappropriately."

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