Morecambe business leader says it 'makes no sense' to ban motorhomes from parking overnight on the prom
Some residents want to see motorhomes banned from overnight stays in Marine Road, and Lancashire County Council said it is reviewing the situation, although it is in "very early stages".
Motorhomes of all shapes and sizes are a common sight along Morecambe Promenade.
There are currently no Traffic Regulation Orders in place along several long stretches of the prom, allowing people to park up overnight for free and enjoy what the town has to offer.
Some residents have complained that motorhome visitors have been discharging septic toilets into the drainage system, and take up parking spaces for other visitors, and are calling for a complete ban.
At the same time, suggestions have been made that Lancaster City Council could use part of the Festival Market car park for motorhomes - supplying electricity, toilet and waste disposal facilities, and generating an income.
But Lancaster City Council said it had no plans to do this.
County Coun Margaret Pattison, who represents Morecambe Central, said that over the last few months she has been asked to look into the free parking bays on Morecambe Promenade by local residents and the number of camper vans and motorhomes parked overnight.
She said that the county council confirmed there would be no new Traffic Regulation Orders implemented this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that given the public interest they would launch a four week consultation period during which people can have their say.
County Coun Charlie Edwards, who represents Morecambe South, said a serious conversation needed to be had.
Tom Powney, chair of Morecambe BID, and himself a business owner in the town, said motorhome and camper van visitors are good for the economy, and help reduce night time anti-social behaviour.
He said: "I am aware that motorhome tourism does not generate the same per capita spend as other forms of tourism but it does generate a level of business for the town.
"One or two of these live a lifestyle 'off grid' but the vast majority use these vehicles for tourism purposes.
"They are expensive to buy and owning a motorhome does demonstrate a reasonable amount of disposable income.
"A recent visitor to Briggs had parked their motorhome on Marine Road for two nights.
"They spent over £200 in our store, had breakfast twice at Rita's cafe and one lunch at The Midland Hotel.
"It is a regular annual trip to the Isle of Man to visit family so they are also using Heysham port as well as local supermarkets.
"From this one visit alone we are looking at a combined spend of £500 with local business including the ferry.
"At a time when the town has lost five lucrative coaching visits a week with the demise of Shearings it makes absolutely no sense to ban these visitors to our town.
"By nature they self isolate and by introducing a night time residential presence, helping to reduce anti social behaviour on the promenade.
I am aware that there have been problems in the past where septic toilets have been discharged into the drainage system.
"This does need to be addressed but a ban is a foolish way to achieve this.
"There is a clear lack of facilities for motorhomes and if managed properly their visits could be monetised further with the provision of proper facilities such as clean water and septic tank disposal.
"Furthermore, currently, Lancashire County Council have an abysmal record of enforcing TRO's and it is fair to say there is zero enforcement of the blatant disregard some locals and business owners have for pavements and public spaces which are a parking free for all.
"When city, town and county councils have provided proper provision for motorhome tourism then by all means restrict them from the promenade.
"However before doing so County highways need to enforce the TROs currently in place, mend the potholes, weed the streets, repair the pavements, clean the gulleys and drainage systems and provide up to date traffic signs.
"Let's focus our efforts on adding value to our town rather than chasing tourists away."
Lancashire County Councillor Charlie Edwards, who represents Morecambe South, agrees.
He said: “We need to have a serious conversation about the camper vans on the promenade.
"Why are we turning away anyone who wants to spend money in our town?
"Giving them dedicated areas to free up other parking spaces could be an answer.
"To ban tourists in Morecambe is a backward step, I support anything to boost business and create jobs in our town.
“We want Morecambe open for business!”
A spokesperson for Lancaster City Council said: “The Lancaster district is blessed to have numerous well-run caravan parks which already have facilities on site for the owners of motorhomes.
"That being the case, there are no plans to provide such facilities on the council’s own car parks.”
Peter Bell, regulation and enforcement manager for Lancashire County Council said: "We're aware of pressures on parking in seafront areas, particularly during the peak season for tourism when there is high demand for visitor parking, along with specific issues such as overnight parking of camper vans.
"We are currently reviewing on-street parking arrangements across a number of seafront areas, with the aim of ensuring the best balance between the needs of residents, visitors and businesses, however this work is still in the very early stages.
"When we are at the stage of being able to publish proposals we will consult widely with partner councils, councillors, businesses, and the public before putting any changes in place."