Calpe camper invasion
Residents and motorists angry as vehicles take over parking
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