'Imagine if we all bought a caravan': Readers react to news campers in Portobello are refusing to vacate car park
News that campers living in a Portobello car park are refusing to leave the seaside spot despite being given their marching orders by the city council has divided opinion among readers.
Ten caravans and a converted trailer wooden chalet have been taking up the whole car park at King’s Place, prompting ire among locals for five years, but the council recently served a formal notice to the owners to remove their caravans. In response the campers say being asked to move is a breach of their human rights.
Many readers welcomed the news that the campers were being obliged to move on, with Claire Beadie, for example, saying: “Good, hope they get moved – it's not fair. Imagine if we all bought a caravan and just parked up where we wanted for a few years.”
Ellen Deeprose also sided with the decision to ask them to leave the site. “It’s a car park that no one can park in when visiting, because of the caravans. At first it was a couple, and then suddenly the whole parking area was full with caravans,” she said. “Travellers aren’t allowed to just park up and stay forever, they also need to go through the correct channels.”
There was criticism of the campers not chipping in for the likes of council tax. Jacques Georgie Aitch said: “It's the taxpayers who are paying for these people to live right next to the beach with a sea view, and also the court fees, council removal squad etc. The caravan-owners aren't paying anything to the council.”
And Steven Robertson said: “This is a car park … not a caravan park, if they want to live in a caravan go along to coast and pay for a pitch at Seton Sands, legally.”
But others took a more tolerant approach. Brian Arthur said that if the caravan-dwellers are respectful and not bothering anybody “what's the problem”, while Fiona Quilietti said the caravans have been on site for longer than businesses “who also take up excess space with oversized planters and fences without permission”.
She added: “The occupants of the caravans are all impeccably clean and pleasant to locals and also clean up the beach area regularly. It’s not as easy to find housing as people may think. Leaving these people without a home is not the ethical option. Would you rather they were on the streets?”
The story has also prompted a broader discussion of different lifestyles. Tam Brand cited a growing trend of people “trying to escape this enforced society”. He continued: “I’m one of them, I’ve lived in my motorhome [for] the last four years but spend most of my time in Europe where van-dwellers are made welcome instead of pestered by greed like in the UK. Not everyone wants mortgaged up to the eyeballs and a slave working every hour till they die to pay for it.”
And Yvonne Robertson said: “The [campers] have the right to an alternative lifestyle, as do we all. Perhaps there should be spaces available across UK for people who want to live or travel in their vans, with proper hygiene facilities. There’s wasteland everywhere in this country, run down buildings rotting away and have been for years. There’s a culture of entitlement in society these days.”