Calls have been made to end the ‘disgrace’ of campervans parking at a seafront car park ‘for free’.

At present, five car parks in Torridge allow for campervans and motorhomes to park overnight for a £5 charge, with a maximum of two nights in any location, with occupants banned from any open cooking or fires in the car park.

But at a full Torridge District Council meeting on Monday (August 10), Cllr Len Ford said the current regime for charging was ‘a disgrace’, with the system being abused by holidaymakers as the council had become ‘too friendly’.

He said: “We have made a car park in a prime site into a campsite, and it is being abused.”

Cllr Ford said that recently there have been fires lit as late as 10.30pm in a sandpit at the Churchfields Car Park in Appledore, and that while the £5 fee for overnight parking was supposed to be paid, because there was no enforcement in the evenings, it wasn’t been managed and therefore people were parking for free.

He added: “It’s £5 a night and they are not paying it, and there are 20 or 30 caravans. I’m not laughing and this is not a joke. This is a disgrace and this needs resolving,”

His notice of motion said: “From next Easter, I propose that specific area is allocated for camper/mobile homes. I would suggest the area currently where there are recycle bins, immediately in the car park on the left. By my calculation, I think we could allow a maximum of 12.

“I would also suggest increasing the fee to £15 per night and only one overnight stay per visit. In conclusion, this would alleviate the problem of them blocking the footpaths, which is the only safe route through the car park for many, especially those using pushchairs and wheelchairs.”

While Cllr Ford was only referring to the Churchfields Car Park in Appledore, the motion does not specify which car parks the proposed changes would refer to, and so would also impact on the Riverbank (long stay) Car Park in Bideford, the Westward Ho! (Main) Car Park, The Manor Car Park, Holsworthy, and Sydney House Car Park, Torrington, where campervans can also park.

Cllr Peter Hames added: “This has rumbled on for years and there have been concerns about the campervans. It has got out of hand and we have had to provide an overflow car par in Appledore.”

Cllr Doug Bushby added: “It is morally wrong that council in competition with the local campervans that provide that facility. There should not be any motorhomes in car parks in council run facilities.”

Councillors voted by 27 votes to one, with four abstentions, in favour of sending the motion to the car parking working group before it is discussed by the council’s community and resources committee.

It will go back to full council for final approval if the concept is supported.