Tourists camping on unauthorised beachfront have been accused of ‘freeloading’ for pretending to be homeless in order to camp on a famous English seaside in the face of sky high holiday costs.
Around seven tents were seen over the last weekend along the seafront of the English Riviera in Torquay, Devon, where the campers have set up,Metro.co.uk reported.
While some locals and community leaders have expressed anger, others remain understanding of the holidaymakers’ decisions to attempt to enjoy a cheap holiday.
Prices for British seaside holidays shot up after the pandemic with overseas holidays proving difficult to navigate.
A snapshot investigation by consumer champion Which? in March 2021 found that prices are were by 35 per cent on average at beach hotspots around the country.
Last week, new analysis of government figures by real estate advisers Altus Group found that more than 11,000 second-home owners in England have flipped their properties to become holiday lets since the start of the pandemic.
Almost 4,000 homes have been flipped in the South West since the start of the pandemic, amid record visitor numbers in Cornwall and Devon.
Chairman of the Cockington, Chelston and Livermead Community Partnership, Roger Carter, called the campers “freeloaders and chancers.”
“This is not about the homeless problem — these people are having a free holiday at the expense of Torbay taxpayers,” he said. “It’s just not acceptable.”
He questioned the campers’ personal hygiene as they were camping on a beach with no open public toilets.
He said: “Where are they going to the toilet?
“You’ve got a family beach down below where children are playing in the sand.”
He added: “I have had some strong emails with the leaders of the council. Princess Gardens has recently been refurbished at great cost and to see this is an absolute disgrace.
“These people are not homeless, but chancers and freeloaders.
“It is an appalling image to present to our visitors and residents — this is not about politics but the buck stops with the council.”
Clive Hughes, a local, wrote on Facebook agreeing with Mr Carter, alluding that the holidaymakers were taking liberties. “If not an authorised camping spot, they shouldn’t be there,” he wrote. “Once you let one, the next thing it will be like a campsite, but at least it looks clean and tidy for now.”
However, other locals jumped to their defence.
“What’s wrong with that?” Wrote Christine Lillicrap. “They’re not here buying second homes. Perhaps they resent having to pay ridiculous money-grabbing campsites.”
A spokesperson for Torbay Council The Independent: “Torbay Council is aware of the unauthorised encampments and is taking the necessary steps to determine the appropriate course of action.
“Our officers have been visiting the locations and are carrying out the necessary welfare checks. We are also assisting the occupants with a more permanent housing solution which is all the more difficult under the current housing crisis.
“We have strict legal processes to follow before an encampment can be moved. We will conduct all parts of the process as swiftly as possible, whilst treating all those involved with dignity and respect.
“Torbay is currently experiencing a shortage of suitable housing and are appealing for private landlords to come forward if they have a property available.”