Cowbar parking plan proposed after camper van complaints with claims visitors face harassment
Plans to deter errant camper van owners by introducing parking restrictions at a coastal beauty spot have coincided with an apparent dirty tricks campaign against them.
There have been complaints about camper vans being parked overnight in Cowbar, near the popular fishing port of Staithes, and the local area being used as a dumping ground for waste and the emptying of chemical toilets.
As a result Redcar and Cleveland Council is now proposing no waiting at any time restrictions to the north and south of Cowbar Lane, off the A174, an alternative route into Staithes and a popular stopping off point for walkers using the nearby Cleveland Way.
Restrictions are also planned for a small free car park in Cowbar Lane, which would mean it could only be used by drivers with a disabled permit, a Cowbar residents’ permit, the emergency services and local council vehicles.
While the plans have split villagers, separately the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has also been told of alleged incidents where visitors have been harassed and intimidated.
These have included: excrement being left on car doors and handles; oil based lubricants being sprayed on windscreens; being woken in the early morning by blaring car horns and lights being shone into vehicles.
In an account shared with the LDRS two male surfers who were staying in the Cowbar area last year said they were verbally abused by a man who shouted at them: “You can’t be camping here” and “I’ll be having ya”.
One of those involved said it had been an “unpleasant and unnecessary episode”.
The visitor said: “It’s shocking that this should be happening as I’ve been travelling to Staithes for the best part of twenty years and have always felt very welcome.
“The vast majority of surfers are very respectful of the environment and local people wherever we travel, we are nature lovers who don’t litter and are generally quiet and calm.”
The council has begun advertising the proposed changes – part of a borough-wide car parking strategy – in the shape of traffic regulation orders which are now on display in the area.
But while some locals are backing the plans, others believe the council should pause and that the opposition to camper van owners and other visitors parking in Cowbar is NIMBY-like and infringes their rights to peaceful enjoyment of the area.
There have also been posts on local Facebook groups questioning whether any future restrictions would be policed.
Letters have been sent to affected householders outlining the changes, as part of a consultation process.
Robert Hoof, Redcar and Cleveland Council’s assistant director of environment, previously told councillors it had a lot of issues with “inappropriate” camper van parking across the borough, some of which was during Covid-19 restrictions.
The council is intending to designate the Majuba Road car park, in Redcar, as a camper van friendly car park for overnight use, although that is 15 miles up the coast.
Councillor Tim Gray, whose Loftus ward includes Cowbar, said covid had “magnified” the issue and the council was faced with trying to please everybody.
He said walkers using the Cleveland Way could still park in a lay-by off the A174 near to the entrance of the Boulby potash mine.
Cllr Gray said: “I simply want the best for the majority of the residents and the prosperity of the borough.”
Members of the public wishing to comment on the traffic regulation orders only have until April 17 to do so.
If the orders are agreed by the council the proposed parking restrictions could be in place by early May.
Councillor Barry Hunt, cabinet member for environment and neighbourhoods at Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “The council’s car parking strategy aims to improve car parking for residents, visitors and businesses across the borough, and many of the proposals within the strategy are based on feedback we have received from our residents.
“There are currently recurring issues with parking in and around Cowbar, specifically the Cowbar Lane Car Park and the surrounding area.
“The issues include overnight camping of motorhomes, disposal of waste and concerns about the impact on the local environment, including the grass verges.
“The council is currently in the process of advertising two traffic regulation orders, which would restrict the use of the car park to only allow residents, disabled visitors, and delivery vehicles to park there.
“As part of the process, members of the public can voice their thoughts on the proposals as part of a consultation.”
Anyone wishing to comment on the plans is asked to e-mail [email protected]