Beach campers face eviction, prosecution and no sleep

Posted on Wednesday 12 August 2020

Overnight camping on the beaches across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is not permitted at any time. People planning to camp overnight on our beaches are being told it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Not only does anyone camping on the beach face a visit from our security teams and an eviction notice leaving them with nowhere to stay, failure to provide details to council staff moving them on is a criminal offence which risks prosecution. In addition, the presence of heavy plant vehicles on the beach overnight means campers are putting themselves in danger and the likelihood of a peaceful night’s sleep is next to zero.

Director of Destination and Culture Chris Saunders explains, “We have never before experienced camping on our beaches anywhere near the scale that we’ve seen this summer. Our army of beach tractors are out at 2.30am raking and cleaning the beaches. These are extremely large and noisy vehicles making the beach far from the peaceful retreat you might expect overnight. As the cleansing is carried out overnight and obviously in the dark, visibility is significantly reduced. Of course our crews are extremely vigilant and experienced, but anyone pitching a tent on the beach overnight really is putting themselves at risk of harm, not to mention probably getting very little sleep.”

Leader of the Council Cllr Vikki Slade, said, “I am pleased that our security teams were able to move on over 100 tents last weekend, and that a number of formal eviction notices were issued. This work takes place in what are often very confrontational situations, and I must pay tribute to our staff for their ongoing resilience and efforts, but equally I would not expect anyone to continue in a situation where they feel threatened or unsafe.”

Cllr Slade continued, “Our security and enforcement teams are prioritising camping evictions and the safe disposal of BBQs, and our car parking teams have already stepped up early morning patrols to ensure anyone parked overnight has paid the required fees and issue PCNs where this is not the case. We will always prioritise our cleansing and refuse collection, so that those arriving in the daytime, by far the vast majority of those who visit the beach, are met with the pristine, clean, golden sands that they expect along our coastline.”

She added, “Clearly the foreign travel restrictions are having an impact and many who aren’t lucky enough to live by the sea are desperate for a break by the beach. We understand that but our beach is not a campsite. There are plenty of campsites with the proper facilities plus, hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation offers in our area and around. After a significantly delayed start to the British holiday season, these businesses need support. Please, if you want to visit our area, you are welcome, but be responsible and fair, and pay to stay.”

Over 100 new signs are being installed ahead of the weekend, reminding people of the risks of overnight camping.