Calpe camper in­va­sion

Res­i­dents and mo­torists an­gry as ve­hi­cles take over park­ing

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Troughton jtroughton@cb­news.es

FREELOADING cam­per­van own­ers leav­ing their ve­hi­cles parked on the streets of Calpe have trig­gered a flood of com­plaints.

Calpe has six camp­sites for the vis­i­tors – and an of­fi­cial place to empty chem­i­cal toi­lets and take on water – but a sea­sonal in­flux of campers pre­fer to park near the seafront for free.

The sit­u­a­tion means there are daily com­plaints about the 'nui­sance' to the town hall, rang­ing from the loss of park­ing spa­ces, the im­pact of the sight of a fleet of ve­hi­cles at the road­side in a tourist des­ti­na­tion, to the prob­lem of toi­lets il­le­gally be­ing emp­tied on the verge.

Coun­cil­lors are hop­ing to in­tro­duce new by­laws to help con­trol the num­bers of camper­vans parked on the town’s streets, but any leg­is­la­tion must also com­ply with na­tional laws.

Pro­vid­ing the camper­vans are taxed, in­sured, and, if nec­es­sary, have a cur­rent cer­tifi­cate of road­wor­thi­ness - an ITV in Spain, an MOT in the UK – they can be parked in per­mit­ted spa­ces on the road, in the same way as any other mo­torist has the right to leave a ve­hi­cle. How­ever, leg­is­la­tion bars them from ac­tu­ally ‘camp­ing’.

Coun­cil­lor Ca­role Saun­ders, who ad­mits han­dling com­plaints 'all the time' from the ex­pat com­mu­nity, ex­plained: “You must not have any signs of ‘camp­ing’ – you are not al­lowed ta­bles and chairs out­side the ve­hi­cle, to hang out wash­ing, to erect awnings, have gen­er­a­tors run­ning or to re­serve a place with traf­fic cones.

“All this is caused by peo­ple want­ing to stop pay­ing fees at of­fi­cial camp­sites. The cheap­est is about €12 for a night, but it can be less for an ex­tended stay; or €5 to empty the toi­let and fill up with water.”

This week there was a long row of camper­vans parked along Avenida de Polo­nia, which runs along­side the salt lake of Las Salinas, a pro­tected na­ture re­serve.

Mrs Saun­ders said: “We have had com­plaints about peo­ple emp­ty­ing chem­i­cal toi­lets from res­i­dents – some­times al­most daily com­plaints.”

She said changing the law was a le­gal mine­field; other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had been sued by mem­bers of a Span­ish camp­ing as­so­ci­a­tion as they at­tempted to con­trol con­tro­ver­sial park­ing in tourist des­ti­na­tions.

“We have met with the po­lice to dis­cuss how we can adapt our by­laws in Calpe, changing our lo­cal laws about camper­vans, but it can­not be in con­flict with na­tional state law.”

And as a tem­po­rary mea­sure, the coun­cil has or­dered po­lice to step up pa­trols to en­sure the vis­i­tors do not breach ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion.

Camper­vans 'hog­ging' park­ing spa­ces on Avenida de Polo­nia

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