People fear vans will make the area ‘horrible’ when New Brighton’s summer tourists arrive

People fear vans being parked around the New Brighton waterfront will be “horrible” when summer tourists arrive.

West Wallasey Van Hire, based on Cross Lane in Wallasey, has been heavily criticised in recent weeks after it began taking up dozens of parking spots along King’s Parade in New Brighton.

People speaking to the LDRS said this was resulting in major parking problems with some resorting to parking on the central reservation or deciding not to visit the area.

The company had previously looked to buy former playing fields near its current site on Cross Lane but this was rejected by Wirral Council. The company has now agreed a lease with the local authority to use the site of Wallasey’s former gas holders off Dock Road in Seacombe for two years and not to park its vehicles on the road once this was fully ready.

However many vans remain parked along the promenade and several people told the LDRS they have seen them in other places, such as Leasowe Road. Six have also been vandalised with red graffiti on the seafront.

A van that was recently vandalised. Credit: Ed Barnes

Cheryl Hilton, visiting Wirral with her mum Val from Wigan (pictured, lead image), initially thought all the vans were from a filming company. She said, “Even us coming as tourists, it’s not pretty. We thought it was an event but I understand why people aren’t happy. We thought maybe we shouldn’t park here so we parked at Morrisons so I hope it gets sorted soon.”

Teresa Maxwell who visits the area every day to walk her dog said the situation was “absolutely disgraceful,” adding, “Since Covid, a lot of people are getting out walking and last year we were seeing how many people were using the beach. It’s lovely to see families coming down but they wouldn’t be able to do that because when you have got kids, you park on the side with access to the beach.”

She also worried the vans could disrupt the popular upcoming Wirral Egg Run and criticised the fact that there are restrictions on caravans parking overnight but the vans appear to be allowed to stay. She said, “They put up signs that the caravans can’t stay overnight but then these can. At least the caravans bring in tourism. I counted the vans and there’s 99 here today. Sometimes there are over 100.”

Sarah Upton said, “It doesn’t look great,” adding, “It takes away the lovely view and the focus away from the coastline. I would like to see them gone as quickly as possible.

“I was shocked because it brings a lot of tourists to this area. It’s a lovely beach because it’s a great place to bring kids.”

Vans parked on the front. Credit: Ed Barnes

Christine Ross said the council should look to bring in overnight parking to help deal with the issue.

She said, “I don’t know what is going to happen in the summer, it’s going to be horrible,” adding, “We won’t be able to find anywhere to park. We would have to stop coming down. They [West Wallasey Van Hire] will continue and there’s nothing to stop them parking everywhere.”

Jess said, “It’s frustrating and the fact it’s a private company. Why are they taking up space from the public? It’s like free parking for them but they are taking it away from local people parking down here.”

However, one man, who did not want to be named, said, “I think this is a statement against the local authority or they wouldn’t provide them with the vehicle storage space they requested so the rest of the community has to put up with it.

“This is a bit ridiculous but they have no obligation to remove them and the company has outgrown its premises. It’s a local employer so it should have been treated a bit better than it has been.”

As issues continue, calls have been growing on Wirral Council to take “a clear, robust, and consistent authority-wide response.” Wallasey councillor Ian Lewis said the issue was regularly coming up on the doorstep, adding, “People’s patience has snapped and the issues along Leasowe Road have been going on for a long time.”

He said the council had also offered them space in an underused local authority owned car park in Birkenhead but the company had not taken up the offer, adding, “We are not going to give them any of the land that is designated green space. It wouldn’t instil confidence in the Local Plan.”

Following meetings with council officers, he said he expects the local authority to bring in a temporary traffic order to prohibit all overnight parking in the area with the exception of camper van paid parking for 18 months.

He also called for a review of the local authority’s contracts with the company which he said had been given over £531,000 over the last three years.

West Wallasey Van Hire and Wirral Council have been approached for comment on numerous occasions.

Lead image: Cheryl and Val Hilton thought the vans were a filming company. Credit: Ed Barnes

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