Overnight camping in motorhomes on public roads  - and other topics.

Sidmouth FolkWeek 2015, article and letters in Sidmouth Herald 21 August 2015.

Bylaw to ban campers will be investigated.

County Hall chiefs are 'putting the wheels in motion' to see if a bylaw could be used to end a street’s use like a festival campsite.

Councillor Stuart Hughes is responding to concerns raised by Chris and Christine Bull, who said Bickwell Valley fills during FolkWeek with motor home users cooking, cleaning and washing in the open.

Devon County Council (DCC) has committed to review the parking restrictions in the town - but said a balance needs to be struck between residents, commuters and visitors.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said: Unfortunately unless there is a local bylaw, then anyone sleeping in their camper van is not committing any offence. Therefore, putting up signs would not be enforceable.

I shall, however, set the wheels in motion through the town and then district council to see if a bylaw can be introduced in time for the 2016 folk festival.

He has asked if the issue can be included on September's town council agenda. Mr Bull said: We're pleased Cllr Hughes is putting this on the agenda. This is a step in the right direction and we're looking forward to a favourable outcome.

DCC reviews the parking restrictions after every FolkWeek, and this year prohibited on-street parking in Redwood Road, Southway and Cottington Mead.

Note added - related to the above article:

There appears to be a widespread belief that camping out on a public road in a motor vehicle or caravan is not allowed. Certainly there have been cases where the police have 'moved people on' but these actions may have been unlawful and therefore potentially subject to legal challenge and with damages being able to be sought against the police in respect of abuse of authority and harassment.

Amongst the references on the internet are these - none of which appear to have much legal authority!





In respect of the proposed 'bylaw' if this were applied only to specific roads in Sidmouth then its only effect would be to confirm that all other roads were 'fair game' and thereby to move the problem elsewhere.

I recall there was a change in the law many years ago that specifically allowed HGV drivers to sleep overnight in their vehicles but these have to be in lay-bys because HGVs are not allowed to park on public roads overnight. Cars and motorhomes can park overnight, these have a private light goods or PLG designation.

As of August 2015 I remain unconvinced either that the police know what they are doing when they 'move people on' who are camped out for an occasional night, or that a ban in respect of any specific roads would solve Sidmouth's problem during FolkWeek. There are examples in the above links to local councils acting in a high-handed manner and/or probably without proper legal authority. Again these people could have complaints made against them.

Acoustic approach was more enjoyable.

It has been encouraging to note the groundswell against the amplified, bass-ridden music that assaults the ears during FolkWeek and that most of the comments appear to be from 'folkies' themselves. Vibrating bass, thumping drums and shouting rock band vocals heard all over the town late into the night, is not what FolkWeek is about and I agree with the recent letter from Dr Stephen Wozniak concerning volume levels in the Anchor Garden.

The style of bands and volume settings over the past few years had seen walls, fixtures and fittings inside neighbouring residential properties vibrate in sympathy, I feel the stirring of EDDC from its seemingly sedentary position was probably due to evidence and written statements of several nearby residents, rather than comments from dancers.

We do, however, now join Dr Wozniak and his willow-stripping brethren in acknowledging the Anchor management's response regarding a more 'acoustic' approach this year, together with ensuring a responsible setting of volume levels. It was surely more enjoyable for all concerned.

Ebdons Mews, Sidmouth

FolkWeek boost for Sidmouth Lifeboat

Sidmouth Lifeboat would like to thank the following groups who took up collections for us during Folk Week 2015: Faithful City Morris; Honiton Ukulele group; Roy Torrens; Loose Knit Band; Blackmore Bar Team; and last, but by no means least, Middle Bar Singers - who collected an amazing total of 1,511.82 in their buckets over the week.

The overall total was 2,380.96 - so very many thanks to everyone involved. In addition, Sid and Alma were allowed to stay out on The Esplanade for an extra two hours per day,' collecting 187 in their buckets over the week.

Thank-you everybody for supporting us.

Company Secretary, Sidmouth Lifeboat

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