Calls for clampdown on dangerous Snowdonia parking after summer covid chaos

Picture by the Snowdonia National Park Authority

Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter

Calls have been made for a clampdown on campervans and motorhomes “parking where they like” in parts of rural Gwynedd and a need for bigger fines for motorists dangerously blocking highways near beauty spots.

Hoping to heap pressure on both governments to take action, the pleas for action come following complaints over the summer of both “antisocial campers” leaving litter and human waste in their wake as well as unprecedented scenes of dangerous parking on the roads of Snowdonia and beyond.

Addressing Thursday’s Communities Scrutiny Committee, one Llŷn councillor said that the sheer number of motorhomes and campervans causing issues was of “great concern,” with officers also confirming they had never before received so many complaints as this past summer.

It was suggested that some council car parks could be equipped with basic equipment such as water and waste disposal facilities, but this also attracted opposition due to the potential effect on already established caravan and camping sites.

Over the summer it had been reported that soiled nappies, discarded barbecues and empty fast food cartons were among some of the items found in laybys by visitors camping overnight.

“We have seen up to 15 of these vehicles on some nights parking in the most remote areas which have no suitable facilities whatsoever,” said Cllr Simon Glyn (Plaid Cymru, Tudweiliog).

“There’s evidence, not just this year, of human waste being left and I would propose that such parking should be restricted anywhere which does not possess such facilities.

“We have hundreds of campsites in Gwynedd which are designed for them, there is no need for them to park in such places overnight.”

 

‘Penalty’

Meanwhile, scenes showing hundreds of cars partially blocking some of the region’s highways made headlines over the spring and summer as visitors flocked to Gwynedd beauty spots – partially due to the inability to fly abroad during the pandemic.

And despite the introduction of police patrols and clampdowns to fine motorists parking dangerously – with an incredible 180 fixed penalty notices issued in just one day at Pen-y-Pass – claims have been made that the current deterrents are not enough.

“When you consider that many were travelling huge distances to get here, by comparison that penalty was nothing compared to the cost of getting here and the day itself,” said Cllr Steve Churchman (Lib Dem, Garndolbenmaen).

“I feel we need a change in legislation and thereby the penalties that can be imposed for dangerous parking, because clearly we do need to take this seriously.

“I think its going to get worse, this year has been an exception I believe but who knows how next year is going to be.

‘But people have been ignoring our restrictions and the only way of discouraging it is to ensure that the penalty has a bigger sting to it.”

‘Update’

Cllr Mike Stevens agreed, claiming that even a £35 fine at Pen-y-Pass represented a “cheap day out,” for many.

Meanwhile, the task group report itself also included a consideration to increase the cost of general car parking by 10% in order to meet income targets, but not until April 2021 at the earliest and would require a decision by the cabinet.

It also recommended extending the free Christmas parking scheme into January, traditionally a quiet time for retailers, while starting it later in December to ensure the authority did not lose out financially above the estimated £45,000 it costs every year.

A spokesperson for Gwynedd Council said: “The report presented to the Scrutiny Committee provided an opportunity to update members on the ongoing work of the Parking Task Group.

“A number of matters were raised which will require further consideration from officers and a strategic decision from elected members on how best to manage the issues.”

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