Can’t legislate for camper vans

Camping Sign
Camping Sign

STREET signs along Whitby’s West Cliff ordering people not to sleep in vehicles overnight are not enforceable, the police and county council have admitted.

The arrival of summer brings the motor homes which have long since been a bone of contention for local B&B owners, residents and visitors.

The vehicles can often be seen camped up overnight in the parking areas around West Cliff, Whitby Pavilion and Royal Crescent – despite a number of street signs saying “No camping or sleeping in vehicles between 11pm and 6am”.

But the Whitby Gazette has discovered the signs are not backed up by the proper legislation, making the rule unenforceable.

Nick West, North Yorkshire County Council’s highways area manager for Whitby, said there were lots of legal loopholes and confusion as to whether it

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is the police or the council who enforces them.

He told the Gazette: “You can put a sign up anywhere saying no parking but it is only enforceable if there is a legal document covering that sign.

“The bylaws that have been used don’t cover the areas where there are signs in place and we can’t enforce them.

“There are bylaws saying no parking on grass verges but the difficulty is who enforces them. It is a very complicated area.”

The issue was raised at the last community and police meeting and Mr West said it had come up again at a forum just last week.

The Gazette received an email from a regular visitor to Whitby calling for motorhomes to be banned from parking in the town centre.

Eileen Northall said: “Last Saturday there were quite a few parked, the smallest taking up two parking spaces and a couple of the camper vans were the length of buses.

“In small towns like Whitby parking is at a premium and camper vans should be banned from parking in the town - unless they are made to pay for the number of parking spaces they occupy.”

Coun Dorothy Clegg said she had seen the occupants of camper vans parked up cooking bacon and eggs on the pavement and emptying toilets down the drain.

Mr West said a national change in legislation was needed and if the proposed park and ride scheme had gone ahead, West Cliff would have become a controlled parking zone going some way to addressing the problem.

He added: “It is a problem all over the east coast and it is something we are looking at to see what we can do and how do we address it.”