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Call for measures to tackle rogue visitors who tore down parking restriction signs and used Sidmouth residents’ gardens as toilets during FolkWeek

PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 August 2017 | UPDATED: 07:55 15 August 2017

Camper vans parked in Bickwell Valley. Ref shs 32 17TI 9131. Picture: Terry Ife

Camper vans parked in Bickwell Valley. Ref shs 32 17TI 9131. Picture: Terry Ife

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Rogue visitors in campervans and cars have been accused of blighting two Sidmouth roads with ‘disgusting’ behaviour – going as far as urinating in residents’ gardens.

Camper vans parked in Bickwell Valley. Ref shs 32 17TI 9127. Picture: Terry IfeCamper vans parked in Bickwell Valley. Ref shs 32 17TI 9127. Picture: Terry Ife

The shocking incidents, which also include the tearing down of roadside restriction signs to avoid parking tickets, have left homeowners outraged since the beginning of FolkWeek.

Residents are now pleading with the authorities to enforce a bylaw to crack down on people parking on the roads overnight and to resolve the issues, which they claim are a problem every year during the festival.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said he had a ‘nightmare weekend’ as FolkWeek began, with his phone being red-hot with angry residents complaining about the issues. He said signs prohibiting cars, campervans and caravans parking in Bickwell Valley and Glen Road have either been cut down or thrown over hedges – along with cones put in place to block parts of the roads.

This has rendered parking enforcement officers powerless to do anything. And, to add insult to injury, some visitors have been using people’s gardens as toilets.

Camper vans parked in Bickwell Valley. Ref shs 32 17TI 9125. Picture: Terry IfeCamper vans parked in Bickwell Valley. Ref shs 32 17TI 9125. Picture: Terry Ife

Cllr Hughes said: “They think they can camp for cheap and then decide to use people’s gardens as toilets - it is disgusting.”

He added that FolkWeek organisers appointed the AA to put the signs up, which gave officers the legal power to dish out tickets.

Cllr Hughes said he was looking into creating a public space protection order which would stop people from parking and sleeping overnight on public highways in the town. This would not come into force until next year.

Alan Weaver, who has lived in Bickwell Valley for 18 years, said: “I love the festival, however, we are very disappointed that the council has done nothing. I have been complaining to the festival organisers, police and council for 15 years.

“This year, they [visitors] have been throwing the waste buckets into the main drainage system. My neighbour has resorted to putting disinfectant down the drains because she can’t stand the smell.”

John Whelan, 78, a morris dancer from Bouremouth, has been visiting Sidmouth for FolkWeek since 1966 and normally parks in Bickwell Valley.

“I have not seen any evidence of what has been suggested,” he said. “We don’t want to ruin it for ourselves.

“The residents here just think we are riff-raff and we are not. We are all pulled up as near [to the side of the road] as we can and the road is sufficiently wide enough to fit through. We are quiet and considerate and never leave rubbish.”

A FolkWeek spokeswoman said organisers were working with the traffic authorities to implement parking restrictions, which were being ‘regularly’ monitored and enforced.

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