Portobello campers' fury after letter found in plant pot giving them a week to quit the site
Campers living in a car park on the Portobello beachfront are furious after finding a letter in a plant pot giving them seven days to vacate the site.
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The council served campers at the King’s Place car park a notice dated July 9 which threatens legal action against them if they don’t remove their vehicles from the site by today, Friday, July 16.
More than a dozen people are living in ten caravans and a converted trailer on the busy Portobello promenade site, which is on land owned by the city council.
Campers have lived on the site for more than five years, prompting complaints from locals over rubbish and toilet waste on the beach.
Tensions escalated in recent weeks when two abandoned caravans were craned off the site, after the council issued a notice to owners to quit citing they were ‘an obstruction’ under Section 59 (1) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.
But the council brought forward the deadline requiring them to vacate the site by August 16 giving them just one week’s notice to quit.
Furious campers have accused the council of “blatant corruption” and ignoring their plight in favour of supporting the interests of local businesses.
After forming the group King’s Place Caravan Community, they launched a petition which has topped 444 signatures.
Posting an update on social media, a member of the group said: “We cannot believe this action will be backed by tribunal and this intimidating action still has no justification. It’s blatant corruption.”
Wishing to remain anonymous, a camper at the site, said: “I will be staying in my caravan. Let them come.
"If they want to find a solution we are all for that.
"They have not offered us real help. It’s clear their interest is to serve the businesses who want to takeover this car park. We try to keep the peace.”
He continued: "Coming here saved me. It kept me off the streets.
"There’s no way I could have kept renting. I was out of work for a while but found another job as a baker.
"I am independent and pay my taxes so I’m sad in my heart that people say we shouldn’t stay here. We are clean, quiet and we respect the place and our neighbours.”
The 32-year-old added: “My friends here are like family. We don’t use more than we need so we save water, power and food living this way.
"I like this community. It’s my home.”
Mehmet Imanli, owner of Portobello Beach Bistro on the corner of King's Road, says it would be better if the campers moved on.
He said: “Since the council asked the campers to leave they have been more respectful.
"But I still don’t want them to stay. I don’t believe it won’t go back to the way things were before, when they used the beach as a toilet and dumped rubbish in my bins.
"I believe it would be best for businesses here and tourism if they were moved on. It puts customers off.”
A tenant renting a flat on King’s Road said: “The caravans are a bit run down and it’s unsightly but I’ve never heard of them causing any problems.
"I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to stay.”
A council spokesperson reaffirmed the local authority’s intention to remove the campers.
They said: "The Council is taking appropriate legal action to remove caravans and owners who are illegally occupying public land.
"We continue to liaise with the caravan occupants about the next steps keeping them up to date on our plans. This includes offering support and assistance to help them seek alternative accommodation and positive onward destinations."