Driven to despair?

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THE sea view comes without a supplement. All meals fully inclusive. Accommodation cramped, but when you bag the best view in Blackpool and wake with the gulls, who’s complaining?

Certainly not occupants of between 50 and 70 motor homes parked bumper to bumper along Princess Way, from Norbreck to Anchorsholme to Cleveleys over the weekend – all but 20 of them gone by yesterday morning.

This is the lower Promenade, which has yet to be transformed by Blackpool’s ongoing sea defence works, and which stops just short of neighbouring Wyre’s award- winning seafront.

It’s border territory, with regular skirmishes over who parks where and when.

Notices clearly ban commercial vehicles and overnight parking on Cleveleys seafront, but it’s a free-for-all on Blackpool’s side of the divide.

The two Tory councillors representing Blackpool’s patch, Tony Williams and Paul Galley, see red at the white camper van “menace” and say feelings run high on the issue.

The Gazette witnessed that, on Saturday at noon, after one elderly car driver tried to park behind one motor home – to find two chairs in the road effectively doubling the space occupied. A row ensued with the equally elderly occupants of the motor home.

The local, who did not wish to be named, said “enough is enough – these people park for free day and night, all hell would break loose if travellers tried it, so why should they?

“We pay for this amenity through our council tax.”

Councillors Williams and Galley are now calling on Blackpool Council to clamp down on camper van and mobile home parking, and restrict times and ban overnight stays – as Wyre does.

They also want to reopen a once busy car park at Little Bispham overlooking the area, which closed some years ago after locals reported “unsavoury” activities.

Coun Galley explains: “I had four phone calls at the weekend complaining about camper vans – and people rightly ask why that car park can’t be used again.

“I’ve lived in the area 20 years and understand everyone’s frustrations.

“We have been asking for signs on the prom which restrict overnight parking since May. Car drivers can’t find a space.

“Signs will increase numbers shopping in Cleveleys, where a lot of Anchorsholme residents work. The situation where camper vans park outside residents homes on the Prom for long periods cannot continue.”

Coun Williams adds: “We have lobbied to introduce restrictions on the north end of Princess Way, and got them to agree to introduce four-hour restricted parking on this section with no return. It won’t stop it completely, but will deter overnighters. We are awaiting a commencement date.

“We also asked for no commercial vehicles and no overnight parking signs as Wyre has, but were told this was un-enforceable.

“I have always been against coaches, trucks and campers parking along the northern end of the Prom. Residents are fed up waking up to see campers emptying buckets down the drains, and brewing up on the pavement on primus stoves etc. I once saw someone with a barbecue in full blaze.

“I have no objections to them parking where they are not overlooked and fall under the shelter of the park wall, but the north should be exclusively for cars and shoppers.

“We are also asking every major coach operator in the north and midlands to be more considerate.

“I understand one motor home magazine – we are trying to find which it is – actually lists the area as a good free holiday spot. “We would like them to show some respect for residents.”

Other locals say they can’t get a look-in most weekends.

Robert Boyce, treasurer of Fylde Boat Angling Club, Anchorsholme, says the sheer numbers parking overnight free has reached “breaking point and urgent action is needed by both authorities, Blackpool and Wyre.”

On Saturday, a snap survey by The Gazette revealed 51 motor homes parked up by noon, and up to 70 later. They included a mobile home of retired nurse Lilian Bardsley, 70, of Burnley, and husband Don, 71, who regularly take impulse breaks here.

“It is widely known to be one of the best free sites left in Britain,” says Don.

“We’ve heard restrictions could be on the way, but it’s false economy to drive us away. Look at the cyclists, dog walkers, disabled, joggers, fishermen, couples, families attracted. We’ve had a week here.”

Lilian adds: “We never have trouble, we chat to residents, we make friends, we spend in local shops, visit local pubs and cafes. We don’t have barbecues or dump waste water, and we take our rubbish home. I use a mobility scooter myself. This offers real quality of life for us.”

Not all residents agree with a purge on parking by mobile home owners.

Leslie Donnolly, of Bispham, parks on the lower walk regularly, while wife Margaret walks their dog. “It’s busy, but you can usually find a space by the Anchorsholme Park wall, on the other side of the road to the mobile homes overlooking the beach.

“What harm are they doing? None that I can see. Live and let live. People need a break.”

What Blackpool Council’s head of transport says:

PETER Cross, head of transportation for Blackpool Council, says: “We are aware this is an issue for residents in the area, particularly those overlooking Princess Way.

“We have been having some difficulty with materials to mark out the bays for the four-hour limited waiting, due to the condition of the concrete road surface on parts of Princess Way and the fairly harsh cleaning regime when the area has wind-blown sand on the carriageway.

“We will mark out and implement the restrictions to the north of Anchorsholme Lane along the section overlooked by residents. Luckily the carriageway in this section is in reasonable condition, and is asphalt rather than concrete.

“I would propose that we see what effect this has in deterring motor homes before taking any further action. There are other things which can be done, but these will come at a cost in terms of time and money, and may well affect other users of the area.”