New 12-hour parking restrictions that have been imposed at Le Port, in a bid to deter islanders using the area as a camping spot, have been blasted as “ridiculous” and “unbelievable” by some of the regular coastal campers.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Kevin Lewis, announced yesterday that parking would be restricted to a maximum of 12 hours in any continuous 24-hour period in order “to deter vehicles from being left overnight or longer, and to create more spaces for islanders to use the beach and nearby facilities.”
Work will also be carried out to change the layout of the car park to prevent longer vehicles from accessing the narrower areas.
Although camping or sleeping in a vehicle parked on public land is illegal, people have been camping at Le Port since the Parish of St. Peter agreed to make concessions in 2014. However, the Infrastructure Minister said that in recent years the popularity of camping in the area had grown to the point where “the activities of some campers are causing problems for the honorary police at night.”
Pictured: It is now forbidden to stay more than 12 hours in the Le Port car park. (Google Maps)
Deputy Lewis said the changes would assist the parish "in properly regulating the area and ensuring that the car park is available to serve the needs of all users, particularly during peak summer months.”
St. Peter’s Constable, Richard Vibert, told Express that the decision had been made following a number of complaints of “anti-social behaviour” around Le Port. He also said that the sand dunes had been used as “some sort of toilet” and that it was particularly unpleasant close to Le Port.
“We were met with issues where people didn’t want to cooperate,” Mr Vibert said. “We had to find some method to bring order. You can’t have an area that is being monopolised to the extent that some islanders are being intimidated.”
Pictured: Mr Hymas says that Le Port feels like a little community where people bring their families and pets. (Paul Hymas)
But the decision was not well received by the coastal campers. Paul Hymas, a regular Le Port van camper who started a petition last summer to allow islanders to camp in their vehicle in designated areas around the island for up to 48 hours, said the new restrictions came “completely out of the blue.”
“When I spoke to the constable of Saint Peter last year, he assured me that he did not want to stop people from using Le Port as they have done and even suggested I start the on-line petition, he was clearly not telling the truth that day,” Paul explained.
“There’s been no consultation or discussion so this not a democratic decision to please everyone and not the way I would expect a politician to behave.”
Pictured: Paul Hymas says Le Port is a "very special place."
Having made many friends at Le Port and spent many hours with them winding down after a day of work while others played their music instruments, Paul describes Le Port as a "very special place."
He said the decision will have a “negative impact on the lives of many people who work hard and want to carry on enjoying Le Port as they have done for many years without all this trouble.”
“It really is unbelievable and a sad day for the people of Jersey,” Paul added. He is hoping the Constable will speak to the Le Port community “to work out a way forward rather than impose rules that no one really wants.”
Pictured: Fabio says the new rules make Jersey less appealing for locals.
Fabio, another regular at Le Port, said the restrictions were “ridiculous.” “They are literally making Jersey less appealing for the locals,” he added. “Le Port is a place everyone really looks forward going to, to hang out with friends and family and spend the night, wake up in the morning and go in for swim.
The Constable explained the decision came after discussions with the Environment Minister, Deputy John Young, as well as the Constables of St. Ouen and St. Brelade, Richard Buchanan and Mike Jackson. “The restrictions could have been tighter,” he said, explaining that they had considered preventing anyone from parking after 23:30, which they concluded was too drastic.
Constable Vibert said the 12-hour restriction would still allow people to come down for the day with their family, and also possibly to leave their vehicle overnight. “We asked people to stick to 48 hours, but some would stay a week or even weeks sometimes. If people had cooperated perhaps, we wouldn’t have had to do this.”
Pictured: Le Port is a place to escape from the real world, said Fabio.
For Fabio, Le Port has also become a community, “a family and a place for van/campervan owners to escape from the real world, stay the night, wake up to beautiful views and enjoy.”
“This is now being stripped away,” Fabio continued, saying he doesn’t understand why something that means a lot to so many people could be restricted. “So many places in France are relaxed and I have stayed in many places that allow us to park up and sleep the night or two and they are always cleaned and maintained by the users. Why can’t we do the same over here?” he added.
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