Van hire firm criticised over use of sea front for parking

A van hire company in Wirral has been accused of leaving its vehicles strewn across a popular visitor location as it struggles find land to grow its business.

Vehicles linked to West Wallasey Van Hire (WWVH) have been seen parked on Kings Parade in New Brighton leading to criticism on social media and from councillors on the issue. It is understood the vehicles are all taxed and insured.

The van hire company is based on Cross Lane and had hoped to expand its operations onto neighbouring land previously used by Mosslands School as its playing fields.

In 2021, the firm hoped to purchase a site near its Cross Lane base from Wirral Council for more than £150,000. However, this was unanimously rejected by councillors who “expressed concerns at the use of the land, the increased traffic and the loss of green space and flood plain in the locality.”

A report published by the council later that year said the company “advised that its current main site is being operated at maximum capacity and is inadequate to meet its future growth plans. Consequently, it is considering options to expand and consolidate the business in its current location which would be facilitated by the purchase of the land that is subject of this report.

“If this is not possible WWVH has stated that due to the lack of alternative sites in Wirral the company may have to look outside of the borough to realise its growth ambitions.”

At the time, the business employed 280 people and estimated a further 250 jobs could have been created over five years if the sale had gone ahead. It has been open for nearly 50 years and is one of the largest independent van hire companies in the UK.

Wallasey councillor Lesley Rennie said, “During the summer, residents endured vans parked in Green Lane and other residential roads. The company now appears to be using high-profile locations to store large numbers of their vehicles, for free, while they seek the council’s help to find off-road sites elsewhere in the Borough.

“To park this number of vehicles on Kings Parade is wholly inappropriate and, I’m afraid, is not endearing the company to people who live nearby or who wish to use the promenade.”

Councillor Ian Lewis said, “This company reported a profit of £71 million last year – suggesting they should be able to afford to park their vehicles off-road.

“Sadly, this isn’t the first time there have been issues with this company – we’ve had road safety problems around their site on Leasowe Road for years, with additional cost to the taxpayer. Now, it seems, Wirral residents are expected to put up with losing car parking at a key location as well.”

A Wirral Council spokesperson said, “We are aware of commercial vehicles being parked along Kings Parade and Coastal Drive, New Brighton. We are working with the company concerned to try to find a solution to their parking needs.”

West Wallasey Van Hire did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Images: Vans parked on Kings Parade over a weekend in January 2024. Credit: Ian Lewis

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