New measures at Crabtree Lane Car Park to deter travellers
Following a spate of travellers camping in Crabtree Lane car park earlier this Spring the Parish Council has taken a tangible step to prevent a recurrence. For decades the car park entrance has displayed a prominent sign stating 'no overnight parking'. When travellers moved in the sign proved to be unenforceable. There was no law that banned people from parking or camping overnight and the sign seemed to have the same strength as one which might state 'no turning'. Villagers attending the Annual Forum in April heard the Wetherby based police inspector explain a further complication that in his experience many travellers couldn't read.
The Parish Council considered options to prevent a repeat. Some advice offered was to erect a bar which prevented entry by high vehicles or to have a gate which closed and locked at night. Both ideas were rejected.
The solution the council has gone for is to ban caravans from the car park with a sign which includes a pictorial symbol of a caravan with a line drawn through it. This highway code pictogram is an officially approved sign and can easily be understood even by those who cannot read. Below it is a plate which states that the car park is owned by East Keswick Parish Council and those motorists who enter the car park towing a caravan are deemed to have agreed to pay a fee of £500.
This is a legally enforceable route used by private car parks such as supermarkets and motorway services whereby a sign at the entrance might read that those people entering agree to stay for only two hours and pay a hefty charge (dressed up as a fine) for staying beyond that.
The No Caravans rule or a £500 charge in default is planned as a deterrent to overnight caravan parking rather than a realistically imposable charge but nevertheless it is a rule with teeth. In the same way that private car parks can take action against motorists who break their published rules the Parish Council can take photographs of any caravans that transgress, get proof of ownership from DVLA through the registration plate, then issue a demand for payment of £500 backed up with county court proceedings if required.
The Parish Council hopes that the new sign - now in place at Crabtree Lane - will act as a real deterrence to prevent a repeat of the situation earlier this year.