July 6, 2016
'Halt overnight camping in Burnham-On-Sea's streets' calls resident

A Burnham-On-Sea resident has this week called on town councillors to do more to stop overnight camping along streets in the town.

James Spottiswoode says the problem of campervans parking up overnight in residential streets such as Allandale Road, Grove Road and Poplar Road is "only getting worse."

"A by-law or a traffic regulation order would be a positive step towards solving the problem," he told councillors at Monday's council meeting.

"The instances of organised camping in unauthorised places is on the increase. These people are not contributing to the local economy, if anything they are a drain on it, using water supplies and drainage facilities on the cheap - and at council tax payers' expense."

He went on to claim that while the district council is keen to remove campers from its own property, those parked in residential areas "are given not a second's thought."

"I ask you as town councillors to start the ball rolling and not to be put off by the district council red tape and excuses. I am a resident of Allandale Road and we experience overnight campers on a regular basis. Over the past few years we have seen up to four overnight campers at one time - there are large motorhomes at the end of the road overlooking the beach. Grove Road and Poplar Road experience similar problems."

"This last weekend there were two motorhomes parked overnight. These overnight campers are in addition to a converted van that has been parked and lived in for over seven weeks."

He added that Section 77 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 gives power to local authorities to direct and authorise campers to leave land, but added: "I would urge Sedgemoor District Council to pursue a binding traffic regulation order to cover our town. I ask in the meantime that the town council authorise immediate expense on no overnight camping signs and have them sighted in those areas of the town where this problem exists."

Cllr Nick Tolley responded: "I listened to Mr Spottiswoode with interest as I live at the back of the Lynton Road car park. It is frequented at the weekends by camper vans who put up their washing lines. For all intents and purposes you would think this is a travellers problem like we had in the Morrisons car park."

"They are not - they are regular travellers to seaside towns who seem to have an inter-connected network and tell each other that at the weekend that Burnham is not policed, so go and get your washing line up and put your gas bottle out. Lynton Road car park is becoming a caravan site on some weekends."

"We may have the by-laws to move them but we don't have the people on their feet to serve notices. This is a problem not only along the Berrow Road but down by the Yacht Club and The Esplanade. We need to address this."

Cllr Janet Keen added: "I propose that this council writes to Somerset County Council as the highways authority with some urgency and ask them to examine the traffic order and the policing of it."

Cllr Any Brewer said: "I would fully agree with what has been said, but I would not want to demonise all campervan users. There are a large number of them that act very responsibly. They turn up for part of the day and we are not trying to stop them coming to Burnham at all. It's the ones that stay over the night that are the problem and we should do what we can to get it addressed."

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of Cllr Keen's proposal to follow up the issue with Somerset County Council.

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