Clampers for campers in Portrush

COLERAINE Borough Council has agreed to take direct action against overnighting motorhomes in Portrush.

Not everyone is happy with the proposal and motorhome enthusiasts are up in arms about it. They say that the council has done nothing to encourage what is believed to be one of the fastest growing recreational pursuits in the country.

A meeting of Coleraine Borough Council on Tuesday evening heard that Roads Service had carried out a review of parking at Lansdowne Road and Bath Road. As a result they recommended that parking should be limited to one hour during the period from 9.00pm until 9.00am.

The areas affected are the parking bays facing out to sea along the two streets and it has been suggested that traffic wardens or clamping could be used to enforce the legislation. The centre of the car park and nearby housing at Lansdowne Crescent are not affected.

Councillor Norman Hillis welcomed the news but said that it would not necessarily sort out all the problems. He said that there were up to 100 motorhomes in the area some weekends. The meeting voted to support the proposal.

However motorhome groups are not impressed. Chris Quinn has been lobbying for motorhome tourism to be accepted across Northern Ireland.

She told the Times: "Councils across Europe accept motorhome tourists and provide facilities for them. The Tourist Board and DETI are considering how best to encourage motorhomes as a growing part of the tourist industry but Coleraine Borough Council won't open their ears and they are losing out on potential revenue.

"In the Coleraine area most of the car parks have height restrictions and we can't get in. Why not develop the pits area for motorhomes except when the races are on? I spoke to a tourism officer from Coleraine about this last September but I have never heard anything back.

"Derry City Council is actively working to attract motorhome tourists and they are designating areas for them to use. Other areas are doing the same.

"The ratepayers in Coleraine are paying the council to develop tourism but they are failing to address this issue. There are many large events in the area and we reckon there were at least 160 motorhomes at the airshow but there was no official area for them to park up. I am willing to discuss the matter with them at any time."

A spokesperson for the council said on Monday: "Coleraine Borough Council has been in consultation with DRD Roads Service to discuss parking issues relating to Lansdowne area in Portrush. These problems include overnight parking, camping and the extensive use of the car park area by larger vehicles, thus restricting car parking spaces.

" At the Leisure and Environment Committee meeting on Tuesday, Council considered and accepted the proposal by Roads Service. As well as the advice from DRD road service on this request, Council took advice from professionals relating to the welfare and amenity issues surrounding camper vans requiring overnight parking in public parking areas. The services required to facilitate this would be extremely costly to provide and would put additional pressure on the current rates already being negotiated for the residents of the Borough.

"Council is mindful of the majority of car users who use the car parking areas by the coast. In relation to touring vans, at present within the Borough, there are 676 dedicated touring spaces within fourteen campsites, which provide a high level of services and facilities for camper van owners to park and enjoy overnight.

"These are open from 1st April to 1st weekend in October, similar to many other sites in Northern Ireland. Booking early is advisable especially for peak times such as NW200 period, Easter, Raft Race weekend and Airshow weekend.

"Charges consist of 15 per night with electric hook-up, and 14 per night without electric. Additional to this, there are a large number of private camp sites around the coastal area, all of which can be accessed through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

"Council welcome the owners of tourers and camper vans, along with all tourists to visit the Borough throughout the year and hope they enjoy the high level of facilities and services provided."