Councillors call for action against parked-up ‘wild campers’

Keyhaven parking
Milford Parish Council said it was receiving daily complaints about the ‘wild camping’ at Keyhaven

MILFORD parish councillors has called for action after a barrage of daily complaints about wild campers living in vans at two roadside spots in Keyhaven.


The vans, which have been parked in Saltgrass Lane and New Lane for “weeks a time”, have prompted complaints about littering, access for emergency services, and human waste disposal.

The situation has been part-blamed on the controversial closure of New Forest campsites for the rest of the year by operator Camping in the Forest.

Speaking at a meeting of Milford Parish Council, clerk Graham Wells said on a recent visit to the site he counted 42 vans, adding: “It has been a real headache for us.”

He went on: “We are dealing with probably around three complaints each day regarding the parking at Keyhaven, probably exacerbated by the closure of campsites around the area.

“We are encouraging everyone to write to the district council from an environmental point of view because there seems be a number of complaints with regard to the disposal of waste, so we are pointing everyone to the NFDC environment department.”

New Lane in Milford is one of the problem spots

Turning to Milford’s Hampshire county councillor, Cllr Fran Carpenter, Mr Wells said: “The frustration for us is that we can do very little about it.

“So I’m wondering if the county council can help us at all with the issue because there is currently no parking restriction whatsoever down there at the moment.”

Cllr Carpenter said that NFDC would be stepping up its efforts to prevent overnight parking at the district council car park with additional evening visits.

She continued: “If people are parking on the road there are very few places marked ‘no parking’ so they are allowed to be there unless they actually block the roads.

“If they block a road so people can’t get past then you can call the police, but if that is not the case there is very little that you can do.

“If we can bear to wait it out until the end of summer and it dies down, it might not come back next year.”

However, Mr Wells said it was an annual problem which had escalated year on year, and without help from the county council – which is the highways authority – he feared the situation would continue to deteriorate.

Cllr Bob Bishop declared: “Essentially it’s wild camping. It’s all very well if you are in a great big beach in southern France because the French are set up for it. But when you get people living in mobile homes on parking spaces and they are there month after month it is very difficult.”

Cllr Matt Goode asked if a height restriction could be put in place at Keyhaven. He said: “It is not overnight parking – I’m expecting an allotment to appear in the middle of the highway at some point, they have been there that long.

“It is not just a couple of motorhomes that are pitching up whilst they are touring. This is people living down there long term. Residents have reported seeing blue waste being tipped down the open drains. It is not acceptable.”

Cllr Goode said he feared the council needed to be “a bit draconian” to tackle the problem. “You won’t get people to stop with a couple of signs. I have never seen anything like Keyhaven this year.”

Highlighting facilities like Lynton Lawn touring park and Muddy Puddle campsite next to the South lawns Hotel, Cllr Sue Whitlock pointed out that visitors were a welcome boost to the village economy.

“I am a big supporter of camping and I would hate to discourage people from doing it,” she said, but added the situation at Keyhaven was “tricky”.

Cllr Anne Cullen urged councillors to be sympathetic to those unable to uses sites which were now closed because of the pandemic. She said: “There could be mental health problems.

“Before we start getting too draconian, I think we should consider the reasons why some of these people may be there in the first place.”



  1. And what about actually providing waste disposal facilities and proper places for people to park up? Sadly the pandemic saw many people who live in their vans full time either out of choice or financial necessity with no where to go. Councils are obliged to provide for travelers but not for others time for a didfferent attitude to those priced out of the housing market

  2. Instead of criminalising people in their vans put a 48hr max notice up put a aire type point in for water and chemical toilet emptying charge £5 for using this facility plus £5 for the stopover, if there are 30 plus vans there I reckon that’s £300 per day £2100 per week, £8500 per month £25000 per summer season, money pit for community shops and council, be more positive and make it work for everybody. Don’t demonise me for wanting to be free in my retirement and enjoying my country in my way wild camping in my motor home.

  3. Well said Peter Allen! We are currently in France with our motorhome, where the facilities for campers are great. When we get home, quarantining for two weeks will be a small price to pay for the holiday we are now enjoying. Please do not mix up people who live in their vans with us recreational campers, who stay one or two nights max, carry our own waste, leave the site AT LEAST as clean as we found it, and buy goods and services in the local community.

  4. I feel for those forced to live in vans due to cost of living here in the UK it is outrageous to persecute those who are respectful and wild camp. Those who leave their **** around, should be persecuted, so yes have proper facility’s and ensure there are security cameras so the litter and **** leavers can be prosecuted and made to clear their mess up. But that will never happen, the posh residents cannot have people enjoying the countryside.

  5. People are complaining because these people are living in vans near their homes. They should think themselves lucky to have a home, it could be them in a few years living in a van. You should be ashamed of your self. I hope you lose your house so you can see how it feels to have to live in a van. The local council should post your names in the paper so all can see who you are.

  6. Wow the guy says how it’s OK in France because they have the facilities then instead of setting up the facilities here he wants to ban it. Charging vans 5£ per night via one of those parking apps with an anpr camera to monitor it would be a money earner plus would attract more tourists who spend money in the town

    • Classic councillor short sightedness, scaring local voters by demonizing incomers as a distraction from the corruption and mismanagement of funds regularly reported.

      This should be a bumper year for coastal town and village tourism, as for as long as I can remember the council’s have been blaming poor services and road repairs on a lack of tourists and their money.

      You’ve counted 40+ people on a single day that have chosen your area out of the whole of the UK to visit, so there is a market and a demand; provide facilities for them to park and charge accordingly, welcome them to stay safely and they will spend money in local shops, on expiriences likecsea fishing, and top up the local economy in these desperate times.

      If you don’t, and you let this golden opportunity slip through your fingers then remember the decisions made the next time you hit a pothole the council says they don’t have the money to repair, or the nursery loses its funding as the council say they cannot afford to support it.

  7. I am born and bred in lymington, and live in my van due to the private rent sector being so high and being on the NFDC housing list for over 5 years, after the break up of my marriage found me homeless. Myself and mates and their vans, have stayed sometimes at keyhaven as we do all over the UK leaving no trace of any rubbish or waste and normally move on the next morning.
    It seems to me when people buy a house for hundreds of thousands of pounds they think they are buying the surrounding area they are not. it’s for everyone to enjoy, I have every right to park my van where I like and I’m a local man, if NFDC put extra services eg “Blue waste, clean water and larger bins” on the existing public toilets the vans and Motor homes would use them.
    instead of trying to move the problem else where moving the vans elsewhere, this is a free world you should be able to live your life as you choose.

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