Motorhome Parking - The Futility of Aires Petitions.

From time to time threads are posted on motorhome forums exhorting people to sign a petition making demands for UK Aires. Those petitions are inevitably full of inaccuracies. At best they will be ignored and at worst they will be a disincentive to local authorities. Where Aire type facilities have been achieved in the UK it has always been because individuals/small groups lobbied the specific councils constructively and made a proper case showing economic benefit to that particular area.
In the examples below the petition text is in black and the explanations of reality in red. They have all been published on the UK government petitions web site where 10,000 signatures are needed for a government response and 100,000 signatures are needed for consideration for a debate in parliament.

From 2012. Ended 18 January 2013 with 640 signatures.

Motorhome Freedom

We would like to petition the government to provide overnight and resting place facilities specifically for motorhomes the like of which are to be found in such countries as Germany,France,Italy,Spain etc. Or to place the onus to provide on the local authority.

The final sentence ignores the fact that the legislation which allows councils which are caravan site licensing authorities the freedom to use their land in this way has been in place since 1960. Some councils have already used that legislation to allow overnight camping in their car parks (those where a beneficial demand has been shown to exist and where the proper planning consent has been obtained).
No government is going to reverse that legislation and take a duty to provide facilities for a tiny minority upon itself, so petitioning the government to do so is a waste of time.
The petition as a whole does not even attempt to make a case as to why taxpayers' money should be spent in this manner and what (if any) benefits would accrue.

From 2013. Ended 22 May 2014 with 211 signatures.

British Aires

There is very little provision in this country where motorhomes can park as a lot of car parks have height barriers. Also there is very little provision for designated areas for overnight parking such as aires on the continent. Contrary to belief motorhomers do help local economies. With this in mind council should be made to provide safe areas, with access to water at least for motorhomes to park up overnight and to raise height barriers on car parks during the day.

There are well over 2000 car parks, laybys and on-street parking places in the UK which can be used by motorhomers during day visits.
The petition provides no evidence at all to back up the claim that motorhomers help local economies. This point has been debunked many times in discussions on motorhome forums. The amount of money which people spend in places they stay the night varies enormously between individuals (and by the same individuals on different trips). This claim is often made but on the few occasions that people have been able to make a case it has been in respect of a specific venue. It has never been possible to make a case which covers the whole of the country. Why should councils be "made" to pander to a relatively tiny minority on the basis of such a flawed argument?
It is inaccurate to talk about "park up overnight" in relation to the UK because the subject is actually "camping overnight ". Notwithstanding what may be the case in other countries, there is a distinction between parking and camping in the UK. Indeed, many councils allow overnight parking of (empty) motorhomes but do not allow habitation (which is camping).

From 2015. Ended 30 March 2015 with 46 signatures.
This petition was originally published on the American web site Change.org as Allow Motorhomes overnight parking as on Aires and Stellplatz where it had/has no chance of being considered by parliament. As at 7 January 2016 it was still there and had 5276 signatures.

Motorhome Parking

As mentioned above, it is inaccurate to talk about "overnight parking" in relation to the UK because the subject is actually "overnight camping".

"Aires" in France and "Stellplatz" in Germany are the names of areas of provision for Motorhomes to park-up overnight either free of charge or at a nominal rate. In some cases there are grey water disposal and Elsan disposal points and also fresh water for drinking is provided. There are also these kind of areas in other EU countries but I do not know their particular names.
My point is that, in the UK, we make no such provision to welcome tourists to our country and encourage them to travel around, spending their Euros or Dollars!!

It is inaccurate to say there is "no such provision" in the UK. As mentioned above, some councils have already used that legislation which has existed since 1960 to allow overnight camping in their car parks.

In some European countries we have stayed on motorway service areas overnight free of charge and have been made welcome. There are even showering facilities at some! This it not possible in the UK.

Why should it be possible? Why should tax payers subsidise a relatively tiny minority?

In some areas, the councils put up very unwelcoming signs "No overnight parking for Motorhomes" and the like. It is not always possible to plan journeys that take one exactly from one campsite to another, we have sometimes just got to stop on the way to somewhere. Friends who live on the continent of Europe say to many of us that the UK is a very unfriendly place for people with Motorhomes.

The "No overnight parking for motorhomes" types of signs are inevitably put in place where people camping in car parks (often in defiance of traffic orders) or on street do so to an extent which causes a nuisance for other people. Councils have to take into account the (often conflicting) demands of different sections of the population and strike a balance which, overall, best serves the public interest. Where one section causes a nuisance then it is almost inevitable that it will be deemed not to serve the public interest.
If journeys can not be planned there are plenty of road service areas and laybys where people can spend the night in their motorhomes.
Whether anywhere is friendly or unfriendly for motorhomes is a subjective judgement. Provision differs between countries for historical and cultural reasons. Just because provision differs it does not necessarily follow that the country is unfriendly as a whole.

We would like you to ask the minister concerned to look into the possibility of providing better services for those of us who wish to holiday in this way.

As mentioned above, the legislation already exists so it is a local authority matter, not a ministerial matter. Such a request is, therefore, futile and displays a lack of knowledge of the subject.

We can't even park at the car parks and park ride in towns because of height barriers,if we want just a day visit.

There are well over 2000 car parks in the UK which can be used by motorhomers during day visits. In addition there are laybys and plenty of on-street provision.

It would also add to the economy of the areas, as we need fuel, food and we also eat out at the local restaurants and generally spend money in the areas we stop in.

As mentioned above, this point has been debunked many times in discussions on motorhome forums.

Also started in 2015. 3,934 signatures as at 7 January 2016, runs until 5 February 2016.

Compel councils to provide Aires within their towns for the use of Motorhomes

Why would any government "compel" councils to pander to a relatively tiny minority? The title itself makes this a non-starter.

In much of the EU. Motorhomes are seen as a help to the local economy and are provided with spaces to park in towns, and villages - all provide waste water and toilet emptying facilities.

Much of the EU? No, a handful out of the 28 member states.

In the UK this is not done and local authorities are now bringing in blanket bans on these types of vehicles.

UK local authorities are not bringing in any such blanket bans.

Spain, France, Portugal and Germany have these Aires or Stellenplatz, only the UK does not. An Aire is an area in a car park or community centre for example where Motorhomes can park for a period up to 24 hours. If we are truly part of Europe why do we not have the same areas provided by councils in this country. European governments understand that by allowing Motorhome to park they are encouraging people to visit their country which boosts their economy of nearby shops and restaurants.

It is untrue to say "only the UK does not" and "European governments understand". The vast majority of the 28 member states do not have anything like aires. This paragraph also fails to recognise the difference (in the UK) between parking and camping". The claim of boosting the economy of nearby shops and restaurants has no evidential basis.



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Last updated: 7 January 2016