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

Post by PeterB »

Follow up email to St Albans BID team following meeting on Tuesday 14th Sept, 2021.
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From: Peter Burton
Sent: 16 September 2021 23:12
To: 'vanessa.sharp@stalbansbid.com' <vanessa.sharp@stalbansbid.com>
Subject: St Albans - Motorhome parking follow-up to our meeting

Hello Vanessa,

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you for taking the time to meet and discuss promoting tourism to St Albans by encouraging motorhome tourers to visit, enabled by the proposed idea of dedicating a small number ( five or six? ) parking bays at Westminster Lodge, or other suitable location, to allow motorhomes to park daytime and overnight for up to a max of 48 hours. Such parking areas being called ‘Aires’ on the continent.

As discussed, to move forward you would like to develop an understanding of the economic benefits, efforts, concerns and experience of other authorities. Following our call I followed up with the leadership team at CAMpRA, (a not for profit campaign group for real Aires), for contact details at Canterbury.

The Park and Ride in Canterbury has been allowing motorhomes to park overnight for a number of years and the established Aire has been a great success. I have attached the Canterbury Aire Case Study, which has been produced by CAMpRA. I hope you will find this document useful. Colin Perris is the Parking Facilities Manager at the Canterbury Park and Ride and he would be very happy to share his experience. He can be contacted by email: colin.perris@canterbury.gov.uk

I have also attached the CAMpRA Survey that provides a broad understanding of motorhome and associated statistics for the UK.
Something to keep in mind to generate some initial economic benefit understanding:
• If here in St Albans we allocated five parking bays for motorhomes/campervans, and we had an average of just 3 staying, 7 nights a week, over 50 weeks, at £5/night, extra income could be £5,250 pa. That could be over £10,000 pa if the average number doubled to 6 motorhomes.
• If St Albans also added a service point for water and waste that could be used by motorcaravans even if they weren’t parking overnight, a charge of £3 to use could generate an additional £10,000 per year if it was used by only 10 vans per day.
• A recent survey of 8956 motorcaravan owners showed that the average amount they spent locally (in shops, cafes, restaurants) when staying overnight is £47.
• 3 vans staying 7 nights a week and spending that average amount of £47 per night would bring an additional £51,000 income into St Albans.
In addition to the attached Canterbury case study you may find this link to CAMpRA business hub useful. https://campra.org.uk/business-hub/ A wealth of pertinent information.

I’ll reach out to you again in a couple of weeks, however, in meantime feel free to reach out to me anytime or the CAMpRA leadership team at: steve@campra.org.uk (Steve Haywood)

Once again, thank you for taking the time out to discuss how we can help St Albans.

Regards,

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

Post by PeterB »

Our local mp daisy cooper will be doing an interview on our local radio station, Verulum Radio, for st albans sometime this month. I've proposed the following question to the radio station as they were asking for ideas.

"I would be interested on daisys views on encouraging tourism into the city with the subsequent spend such tourists bring into our retail and hospitality. Park and ride schemes, motorhome Aire style parking same as on the continent. (It's one of the fastest growing staycation sectors in the uk.)"

Once I have the date and time of the broadcast I'll post it here.
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Re: St Albans. Mail to our local MP Daisy Cooper. (sent June 13, 2021)

Post by PeterB »

Oct 4th, follow up email sent to St Albans BID team.
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From: Peter Burton
Sent: 04 October 2021 09:42
To: vanessa.sharp@stalbansbid.com
Subject: RE: St Albans - Motorhome parking follow-up to our meeting

Good morning Vanessa,

Hope things are well for you and the BID team. Thought I would reach out and see if you’ve been able to contact Colin at Canterbury, any feedback/actions I can help with?

I do appreciate you’re busy so no rush.

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

Post by PeterB »

Seems to have gone a bit quiet on the communication front even after a couple of chasers. Change approach, follow up email sent to previous contact at st albans BID today oct 14th, 2021. Will give it another week then re-think, possibly to the contacts supplied by daisy cooper our MP.
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From: Peter Burton
Sent: 14 October 2021 19:13
To: Denise Parsons <denise.parsons@stalbansbid.com>
Subject: FW: St Albans - Motorhome parking follow-up to our meeting

Hello Denise, recall we bounced a few emails around regarding motorhome parking.. I met with vanessa a while back and was hoping for an update as to if I can provide any further assistance etc. I mailed vanessa but thinking vanessa is not receiving my mails or is away. Able to help with an update.

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

Post by PeterB »

That seemed to work...
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From: Peter Burton
Sent: 14 October 2021 19:24
To: Denise Parsons <denise.parsons@stalbansbid.com>
Subject: RE: St Albans - Motorhome parking follow-up to our meeting

Sure no worries, I suspected that might be the case with Christmas etc coming up etc so didn’t want to push it.

Cheers
Peter

From: Denise Parsons <denise.parsons@stalbansbid.com>
Sent: 14 October 2021 19:22
To: Peter Burton <PCB0103@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: St Albans - Motorhome parking follow-up to our meeting

Hiya

We are completely snowed under atm with Bid renewal and Christmas so please bear with us. It's a really busy time for us!

I am away but will speak to Vanessa when I get back next week but as I say please bear with us.




Best Wishes


Denise Parsons - Manager -St Albans Bid
www.stalbansbid.com
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