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St Ouen’s Bay camp is too big, says Constable

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MOBILE home owners who spend the weekend in St Ouen’s Bay are being warned that the scale of their encampment is getting out of hand.

St Peter's Chef de Police, John Camara, and the Constable of St Peter, Richard Vibert, at Le Port with camper vans in the background. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (22178920)

The Constable of St Peter, Richard Vibert, says while he does not want to entirely ban people from the area on the coastal strip, the parish wants to find a solution that allows Islanders to enjoy the bay and also protects the environment.

Following complaints about the number of vehicles using Le Port and anti-social behaviour of some of the ‘campers’, St Peter’s honorary police visited the site yesterday to distribute leaflets making vehicle owners aware of their responsibilities. They will be undertaking checks over the weekend and speaking to vehicle owners.

‘There can be 60 vehicles in the area at the weekend and that is creating a safety problem, as it is becoming too crowded,’ he said.

‘The majority of people are acting responsibly but there is a minority who are giving us issues. There are families with mobile homes who go down there to sleep over and they are being disturbed by people drinking and playing loud music in the night.

‘I was down there on Thursday and somebody related to me that they have seen people still drunk at 9.30 on a Sunday morning, and behaving badly, when there are families and visitors walking by, and that is not nice for children to see.’

Because so many people are now using the area, he added, they were spreading into neighbouring duneland which was not only a Site of Special Interest but also in the Coastal National Park. Campfires were being lit, which could endanger rare plants and wildlife, while the dunes were also being used as a toilet by some people.

Under local legislation, it is illegal to sleep in a vehicle – even a mobile home – at anywhere other than a registered camping site. That is reinforced by the car park law, which also forbids staying overnight in vehicles.

The other two parishes with the responsibility for the bay, St Ouen and St Brelade, stick to the law and when they come across people sleeping in vehicles they make them move on.

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Notwithstanding, St Peter has taken a ‘softly-softly’ approach since a parish assembly attended by 250 parishioners in 2014, agreed that mobile home owners could camp there but for a maximum of two nights and in a single line.

Mr Vibert said, however, that there are now so many vehicles that they are double parking on both the sea- and land-side.

‘We don’t want to spoil everyone’s fun but if we believe that the area is becoming too crowded with vehicles we will be asking some people to move on,’ he said.

The leaflet, signed by St Peter Chef de Police John Camara contains the relevant section of the Planning and Building Law that regulates mobile accommodation. Mr Vibert says officers will also be visiting Le Port over the weekend to discuss the site uses with those who like to camp there.

The long-term future of Le Port and the overall St Ouen’s Bay area is a key priority for Environment Minister John Young, who says he will be calling a meeting with Mr Vibert, and the Constables of St Ouen, Richard Buchanan, and St Brelade, Mike Jackson, to discuss the mobile home camp at Le Port and other issues affecting the area.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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