St Albans. Mail to our local MP Daisy Cooper. (sent June 13, 2021)

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PeterB
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St Albans. Mail to our local MP Daisy Cooper. (sent June 13, 2021)

Post by PeterB »

Hello Daisy,

I write to you as a resident of St Albans,

As we are hopefully now in the beginning of the end of the pandemic, which I appreciate is clearly a priority for you, I would like to draw your thoughts to the broader topic of how we can assist the St Albans local economy to recover.

High Street, retail and hospitality have clearly suffered as is evident by the number of closed outlets in the city. With that in mind, I would like to say that in my view, and that of the majority whom I converse with there is support in the most part for maintaining the pedestrianisation around town at George St and High Street. Hopefully this will become permanent and see the development of a vibrant and sustainable “cathedral quarter” supporting local business and artists in addition to traditional retail and historical tourist attractions.

I’ll get to the point.

I am a member of several national motorhome groups - CAMpRA (which has over 12,000 members) and Motorhome groups in the UK. There are over 250,000 motorhome owners in the UK and this figure is growing fast. There are many times this figure in Europe.

They are very keen to visit locations of historical interest and culture such as our area and research shows they would be likely to spend an average of £50 per day in our area. They are mostly retirees with disposable income.

THE ISSUE -> THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO STAY

Motorhomers very rarely use campsites, hotels or B&Bs so any provision would not be in competition with these providers. Motorhomers need three things:

1) An overnight parking space
2) A place to dispose of toilet cassette & washing up waste
3) A freshwater supply

The solution is very simple:

1) Allocate motorhome parking spaces in local car parks with a charge of £5 per night plus the relevant day charges.
2) Provide a 'Motorhome Service Area' with facilities to dispose of waste and refresh water, with signage

I suspect any concerns you might have will be with regard to the 'wrong' people using these car parks/sites so, we at CAMpRA, have researched and discovered the following:

1) The presence of paying motorhomes deters criminals - lots of extra pairs of eyes – just display a contact number for police/security.
2) In rural areas, it has mostly eliminated fly tipping.
3) It can generate a fair amount of revenue which would offset any (minimal) costs involved.
4) We are associated with the 'Wild & Wombling Motorhomers' whose mission is to clear up litter after other people.

However, the most notable benefit is that of their contribution to the local economy.

A drive around our area has prompted potential locations for overnight parking/sleeping, eg Westminster Lodge and also the Roman Museum car park next to the park. Both of these locations are close to ring road but importantly, are within a few minutes walk of the city centre.

Additionally, service areas could be set up in Retail Parks, Industrial Estates, Car Washes, Supermarkets, Petrol Stations, or even Garden Centres which typically have large parking areas.

There are multiple success stories around the country:

Forestry Scotland has just completed a pilot scheme which it is now continuing
Craven District Council have trialled with 2 car parks and have just extended to 3
Canterbury Council have 3 such 'Aires'
Totness and Dartmouth Aires
Hawick Council are having great success with their scheme

There are many more and many in the process of being setting up.

Please have a look at our Facebook group (free) https://www.facebook.com/groups/campra.uk or our website https://www.campra.org.uk

I should be grateful if you would consider a meeting with some of my motorhoming friends and me - we have much more information that could help you and we have lots of networking opportunities for promoting tourism to our area. It really is a 'Win/Win ' situation.

Kind Regards
Peter
PeterB
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Re: St Albans. Mail to our local MP Daisy Cooper. (sent June 13, 2021)

Post by PeterB »

Update. My local MP responded and has provided the names of the specific people i need to contact. That'll be my next step. Fingers crossed.
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PeterB
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Re: St Albans. Mail to our local MP Daisy Cooper. (sent June 13, 2021)

Post by PeterB »

Follow-up mail sent to St Albans BID (Business Improvement Development) organisation Aug 28th, 2021.
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I write to you as a resident of St Albans.

Our city is such a lovely place and is missing out on income from the fastest growing market sector of tourists, i.e., motorhomes.

Motorhome owners don't need campsites with all the bells and whistles - toilets, shower blocks, clubhouses, play areas - just a place to park for one or two nights.

An important aspect I should clarify is that motorhomes are fully self-contained units, no electricity or water services are required. Motorhome parking is not a campsite, in this context motorhome owners are not permitted to put out chairs, tables, awnings etc. It is simply parking. Park up, pay for parking, and go walk into the city to enjoy the sites and hospitality.

In the St Albans area, we have numerous big car parks where between 5-10 spaces could be designated for motorhome overnight parking. I fully appreciate St Albans BID are not responsible for parking strategy, although BID have a vested interest in increasing footfall to support our local business via ability to network and influence within the district.

I have recently written to our local MP Daisy Cooper to raise this topic and received a supportive response from her plus additional contacts to reach out to in the local authority, as a consequence I am seeking to further promote awareness via organisations such as yourselves.

Leveraging and encouraging motorhome tourism would have several benefits to St Albans:

• Extra parking revenue - surveys show motorhomers’ are prepared to pay £5 per overnight plus whatever is the standard charge for daytime parking. Better than the land standing empty overnight - car parks can raise revenue for 24 hours.

• Motorhomers’ spend, on average, more than £47 per night in local businesses such as shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs.

• The presence of a group of motorhomes parked up overnight can be an effective deterrent to criminals and anti-social behaviour.

• There are massive networking opportunities between motorhomers' social media groups and there would be lots of free advertising of the area as a tourist destination.

• We support the environment - many carry litter pickers and tidy up whatever we find around us. We do not make a mess.

Over Europe there is an extensive network of motorhome 'Aires'. Our twin towns in France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Denmark have them. They encourage and benefit from motorhome tourists spend.

As an experienced motorhomer, I have identified a number of possibilities throughout our borough e.g. Westminster Lodge and more.

I appreciate that there might be issues that could concern you but none of them is insurmountable. Canterbury has three such aires and they are making significant money for the council. They have tried and tested strategies for dealing with any potential issues that might arise and are happy to speak to anyone who would like to consider opening an aire – please visit www.campra.org.uk for contact details. Many other areas have also successful deployed aires and reaping the economic benefits.

Please check out the CAMpRA website www.campra.org.uk, where you will find lots of information on setting up an aire and the benefits they can bring. There is even a ready prepared strategy document.

Motorhome stopover parking would have no negative impact on local campsites, hotels and B&Bs as they are a different market. Without aires in the UK, motorhomers’ will simply continue to take their holidays and their money to Europe, and European motorhomers’ will probably not come here.

We have information that Europeans are totally baffled and dismayed by the UK's lack of specific provision and are, overall, unwilling to pay the extortionate rates demanded by campsites.

I should appreciate it if you would consider supporting this opportunity and would be grateful if you would be receptive to a meeting to discuss further. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely
PeterB
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Re: St Albans. Mail to our local MP Daisy Cooper. (sent June 13, 2021)

Post by PeterB »

Quick update .. positive response from BID team. Meeting scheduled for Sept 10th.
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