A MASS gathering of Orange Order marchers in Gourock later this month has been given the go-ahead by Inverclyde councillors.

Elected members voted in favour of the County Grand Lodge of Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Argyll's procession on June 29, which is expected to attract more than 3,000 participants as part of the annual Boyne celebration events.

The parade will feature around 30 flute bands plus large crowds of onlookers, while temporary traffic restrictions will be in place as up to 55 buses head to the town.

Police Scotland did not raise any objections to the plans, however, a force representative told a meeting of Inverclyde Council's general purposes board yesterday that "there will be major disruption to the community".

READ MORE: Gourock: Public objections to plans for Orange Walk in Scottish town

The march will start at Battery Park and proceed along Eldon Street, Cardwell Road, Broomberry Drive, Barhill Road, St John’s Road, Shore Street and Chapel Street, before heading back along Cardwell Road and Eldon Street and finishing at Battery Park.

Forty-five public objections were submitted along with four representations in support of the proposal.

Objectors claimed that the gathering will require a police presence that is "stretched to the limit already", and the march was labelled by some as "clearly antagonistic".

James MacLean, grand treasurer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, said: "It is worth stressing that the parade is only a small and fundamental part of the various services to be held across Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Argyll throughout that day to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

"Much planning has gone into this and the Orange Order has been very much a part of the local scene in Greenock for something like 200 years."

MacLean questioned whether many of the objections were 'genuine bona fide complaints made by fair-minded people', and added: "I have no doubt whatsoever that this is not the case."

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, MacLean said "misconceptions" had been spread around the aims and objectives of the Orange Order, which "promotes love towards all", and they "vehemently denied" the claims of objectors.

He rejected the claims as "utterly preposterous and defamatory", and said they were "not supported by evidence of any value".

MacLean said: "People are perfectly entitled in a democratic society to hold and propagate these views but not to induce Inverclyde Council to restrict the rights of thousands of marchers."

Claiming that the complainants have an "axe to grind", MacLean denied the suggestion that those attending the parade would form part of a "mob of inebriated, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals" and said the event is not scheduled to return to the area for another 12 years.

Referencing the recent Taylor Swift gigs in his home city of Edinburgh, he added that disruption on the day "is the price we have to pay for living in a modern, democratic society".

Hundreds of stewards will be in place to assist the event organisers, while toilet facilities will be provided at Battery Park.

It was stated during the meeting that the organisers have "bent over backwards" to accommodate all of the concerns raised.

Thousands of marchers are expectedThousands of marchers are expected

Superintendent Sam Glasgow, representing Police Scotland at Wednesday's meeting, said: “We are quite clear that there will be major disruption to the community, I don’t think that is disputed in any way.

“Our presence will reduce the risks.

“All of the concerns raised by the community are of concern to the police.

“We have undertaken due diligence and nothing of any significance in terms of disorder or violence has been reported.

“There are no notable flashpoints in terms of the route."

Public comments opposing the plans stated that the parade "promotes hatred" and there is "no place for a supremacist and sectarian organisation on our streets".

Inverclyde Council's general purposes board gave the green light for the plans this weekInverclyde Council's general purposes board gave the green light for the plans this week (Image: NQ)

The event is planned for the start of the school summer holidays, while cruise ship Azamara Onward is scheduled to call at Greenock on the same day.

Several objections highlighted fears over possible traffic disruption, trouble and anti-social behaviour in residential areas.

Others argued that the "loutish activities" of attendees - including allegedly urinating in gardens and leaving litter - will make the area "virtually a no-go zone", while it was claimed that the event "will endanger the safety of our children".

Further objections said the "drunkenness and disorder" that the event could cause makes it a "disaster waiting to happen" and it "risks poisoning our peaceful environment".

Eight councillors voted in favour of the parade going ahead, with one voting against and one abstaining.

Cllr Francesca BrennanCllr Francesca Brennan (Image: Inverclyde Council)

Councillor Francesca Brennan told the meeting: "We have not had an application of this scale for some time and there is a higher number of objections than we normally receive.

"I am sure that it must be wearing for yourselves to have to continuously justify your processions.

"You have given us a lot of assurances today that we need not worry."