East Lothian's overnight car park ban on motorhomes is bad for the local economy – Susan Dalgety
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It doesn’t matter whether we are going a few miles down the road – Melrose has a delightful campsite in the heart of the town – or further afield. We once spent a year in our van, visiting every country in the European Union.
There is nothing to beat the feeling of freedom of a motorhome. Ours may be nearly 30 years old, but thanks to its German manufacturer, it has everything a couple need for a comfortable weekend break or an extended trip. It boasts a sofa, dining area and a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, all packed into a six-metre-long van.
The only thing that can spoil our trip is finding somewhere to park. This is rarely an issue in mainland Europe.
Motorhomes are warmly welcomed everywhere, with campsites springing up in even the remotest parts of Romania, and practically every French village has an “aire” – an overnight spot for vans, often with water and electricity available for a small fee. And parking for a few hours to enjoy the local attractions, whether it’s a Greek taverna or a museum in Italy, is usually straightforward.
But it is a different matter in Scotland, where motorhomes are often unwelcome, even if the owners simply want to buy an ice-cream and take in the view. So I am not surprised that East Lothian Council has slapped a ban on overnight parking at 20 of its car parks, ten on the coast.
To be fair, the council is set to trial a scheme in two locations where motorhome owners can pre-book a designated spot, but that still leaves 18 where motorhomes are no longer welcome overnight. I know that a few campers are guilty of leaving behind a mess, but the vast majority of us are law-abiding citizens who are very mindful of the environment.
Surely it makes far more sense to charge a modest fee – say £10 – for campers to park overnight than send them away before they have had a chance to spend money in the local economy?