Caravans parked overnight in Bognor road pose ‘serious safety hazard’, residents say

Residents from the Marine Drive West Residents Action Group met with Nick Gibb MP
Residents from the Marine Drive West Residents Action Group met with Nick Gibb MP

Concerned residents in Bognor are calling for new measures to prevent caravans and camper vans from parking overnight in front of their homes.

Residents of Marine Drive West fear a ‘serious safety hazard’ is posed by motor home-owners cooking inside the vehicles.

John Wiltshire, leader of the Marine Drive West Residents Action Group which was set up to tackle the issue, said that despite it being illegal to park overnight on the highway, two or three caravans will park up in the bays opposite their homes for several days every week.

The 74-year-old said there was no issue with motor homes parking during the day, adding: “It’s a lovely view, it’s nice people can come along and enjoy it.”

But he said people staying overnight was a problem and that there was a ‘big danger’ created by owners cooking in their vehicles, which are parked ‘bumper to bumper’.

“If one catches fire it would turn into a fire ball within minutes,” said Mr Wiltshire, who has lived in Marine Drive West for five years. “When the gas explodes it goes up like a bomb.

“Our households are literally ten yards from the parking spaces.

“It worries a lot of us. We park our cars along there – if one of those catches fire it just spreads from vehicle to vehicle.”

His neighbour Alison Sharples, who was recently elected to represented Marine Ward on Bognor Town Council, said the lack of enforcement to stop people parking overnight was ‘frustrating’.

She said: “I just find it ridiculous that it’s against the law to do this, but there’s nothing to say you can’t stay here.

“In West Park there’s a notice to say there’s no camping or cooking allowed – but this area is exactly the same and we haven’t got any signs.

“[The County Council] don’t seem to do anything to enforce it.”

The residents, who have been complaining about the issue for years, attended a meeting organised by Nick Gibb MP and highways officials from West Sussex County Council on Friday.

As a result, the group has now applied for a Traffic Regulation Order which will limit the hours of parking on the road.

Mr Wiltshire said: “That hopefully will encourage them to go and park in a proper campsite.

“We’ve got a lot of local support.”

Mr Gibb, the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said: “It is unacceptable for people to live in their motor homes directly in front of people’s houses and flats.

“As well as constituting an eyesore, cooking with calor gas cylinders in the confined space of a van on the highway is felt by residents to be a serious safety hazard.

“I believe that residents should be able to enjoy their properties without having to face the problem of camper vans parking overnight in front of their homes.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “Enforcement against this activity in this location is difficult without a proper Traffic Regulation Order being in place and we have discussed how this can be brought about through an application from the residents.

“The application will be subject to the normal process but, if it is deemed to be a priority for the local County committee, could be implemented in 2020.”

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