Council urged to crack down on ‘uncontrolled’ overnight camping at Southwick Country Park | Wiltshire Times

2022-06-30 07:32:14 By : Ms. Lusie Jung

Fears have been raised that "uncontrolled" overnight campers are dumping toilet waste in a popular country park. 

The Southwick Country Park is set in 150 acres of old farmland, situated in Southwick on the western edge of Trowbridge and is home to the Hope Nature Centre, a tea room and a picnic area.

The local resident, a 52-year-old former council worker, who does not wish to be named, says the country park’s parking area has become an “uncontrolled camping ground” for people sleeping overnight in mobile camper vans.

He said: “The car park is growing in popularity as a part-time residence for a population of overnight camper vans.

“While not breaking the local and overly-generous '23-hour max stay' some of them are leaving during the day and returning every other night."

Some of the vans are being parking up for several nights in succession, giving rise to fears that some occupants are dumping their toilet waste, he says.

He says children and dogs could be poisoned, or that formaldehyde (a product in chemical toilets which is corrosive to the skin) could cause significant environmental damage.

He added: “Essentially, the word is out: there's free camper parking overnight at Southwick because the rules that other council's issue are not being adopted by Wiltshire Council.

“If travellers are taking advantage of 'free camping' then the council has not provided suitable facilities for disposing of chemical toilet waste.

“Writing as a seasoned camper, the biggest inconvenience of a nomadic lifestyle is the disposal of the contents of a chemical toilet - an unpleasant task that has to be done frequently. 

“If a camper isn't prepared to pay a site for use of proper facilities then a site like Southwick is ideal due to the vastness of the area, long grass and discretion.

“Nobody wants their dogs or children to come into contact with human waste but it could be on the ground or transferred by pets that encountered it.

“There is a brook and pond. If these toxic products make their way into the local Lambrok Stream then considerable damage and poisoning can occur.”

Councillor Dr Mark McClelland, Wiltshire Council's Cabinet Member for Street Scene, said: “We have been made aware of a vehicle staying overnight in the car park at Southwick Country Park in breach of the 23-hour parking restriction and we are investigating the situation.

“Wiltshire Council is committed to ensuring that our county continues to be a beautiful place for all to live in and enjoy.

"We will take any enforcement action required to ensure Southwick Country Park is not abused and can be enjoyed safely by all.”

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