Posted: Thu 4th Apr 2024

Pembrokeshire Trial Scheme for Overnight Motorhome Parking Under Scrutiny

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

A recently-backed decision by senior Pembrokeshire councillors to allow a trial scheme for overnight motorhome and campervan parking at some of the county’s car parks is to come under further scrutiny.
Members of the council’s Cabinet, at their February meeting, backed a proposal for a trial run ‘Pembs Stop’ scheme at four car parks: North Beach, Tenby; Goodwick Moor, Goodwick; Townsmoor, Narberth; and Western Way, Pembroke Dock.
The ‘Pembs Stop’ trial areas, available for up to two nights, will operate year-round at £10 a night for a trial 18-month period, expected to start in July.
It was stressed the scheme was not intended to create ‘campsites,’ with a list of criteria including no LPG bottles or furniture to be stored outside, and no camping waste or recycling points being provided.
But local businesses say the proposals will harm Pembrokeshire.
Phil Davies, who owns Hungerford Farm Touring Caravan and Motorhome Park near Loveston, said one and two-night stays from motorhomes and campervans make up between 25 and 30 per cent of his annual turnover.
“Should the 18-month trial go ahead the drop in business will cause job losses within the industry as many businesses could not survive even a temporary drop in trade.”
He also criticised the Cabinet report for using evidence from Gwynedd Council which has faced similar issues, saying the research data, from 2021, was during a period when visitor numbers were “artificially high” as the country was still under Covid travel restrictions.
The Pembs Stop initiative would also place an additional burden on existing services, with many using public toilets to dispose of waste in order to travel empty to save fuel, Mr Davies said.
In a letter to the council on behalf of Narberth traders, Christine James said: “We feel let down that a matter such as this, with potential to have such huge effects on local residents and businesses, has not been brought to our attention.”
She said no-one in Narberth had been notified of the proposals prior to the cabinet meeting in February.
Vicky Gleeson, owner of Ty Creft on Narberth High Street, said: “One lady has recently been turned down for change of use of the upper level of her commercial premises into accommodation. The reason: increased phosphates into the sewerage system. How many phosphates will enter the water system if you’re allowing hundreds of people to pour their waste and chemicals down the public toilets?”
She added: “There are so many towns with dead high streets, empty shops and no visitors. Narberth is not one of those towns. It’s busy and thriving. It is a jewel in Pembrokeshire’s crown and PCC should be fighting to keep it and protect it.”
Councillor Di Clements has been working with those in her ward who will be affected, and also Narberth traders who contacted her, to make sure their concerns are heard.
She added: “It’s disappointing that businesses and residents in and around the trial areas weren’t consulted before it was given the go ahead. We are lucky here in Pembrokeshire to have such a beautiful landscape.
“While that has increased pressure from motorhomes and campervans in places like Manorbier and Newgale, the Pembs Stop trial places the council in direct competition with businesses like Mr Davies’ in an already saturated market.”
Cllr Clements has called for the matter be sent to the council’s policy and pre decision scrutiny committee for further discussion, which will now be considered at its April 9 meeting.
A report before the committee says: “After Cabinet, Cllr Clement raised concerns that the report would benefit from more oversight. The comments were raised with the Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services, who agreed that the matter be referred to Policy & Predecision Overview & Scrutiny Committee, and the chair of the committee supported this.
“As well as Cllr Clement’s observations there have been a number of comments raised about the decision, and the matter also received national coverage in terms of a discussion on phone-in programme on BBC Radio Wales on February 13.”
The report also highlights support received for the trial.
One comment received said: “I am writing on behalf of a vibrant group of motorhome enthusiasts who cherish exploring the beauty of Wales while respecting its communities and environment.
“We recently became aware of your pioneering ‘Pembs Stop’ initiative to accommodate overnight campers in selected car parks. This thoughtful decision not only showcases your commitment to promoting tourism in a sustainable manner but also acknowledges the growing interest in motorhome travel.
“We are a group deeply committed to responsible motor homing. We always strive to leave places better than we found them, supporting local businesses, and engaging positively with the communities we visit. Your initiative directly supports our ability to do so in the Pembrokeshire area; enhancing our members’ experiences while ensuring we contribute positively to the local area.
“We wanted to extend our heartfelt thanks to you and everyone involved in the Pembs Stop decision. Your forward-thinking approach not only makes a significant difference to motorhome enthusiasts like us but also sets a commendable example for how communities can embrace the benefits of responsible motorhome tourism. Please consider this email as a token of our appreciation and a pledge from our community to support and promote this initiative.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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