Maenporth Beach car park number plate cameras plan to stop campers and troublemakers

Maenporth beach car park near Falmouth
Maenporth beach car park near Falmouth -Credit:Google Maps

The bosses of a popular beach café in Cornwall have explained their decision to seek permission to install a number plate camera car park system after receiving backlash. They said cameras and a pay and display machine would stop the problem of people camping overnight and antisocial behaviour, including beach bonfires.

James Wright, who owns Maenporth Beach Café on the outskirts of Falmouth, has applied to Cornwall Council to install an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) bollard and camera, associated signage and a pay and display machine in the beach car park. Currently, the car park doesn't have a machine and instead charges a flat daily rate.

However, Mr Wright said the decision to install the parking camera is necessary to ensure they abide by their lease with Cornwall Council, which forbids overnight camping and antisocial behaviour. He added that they also regularly experience significant problems caused by people having bonfires and leaving BBQs behind on the beach or by the café buildings, which poses a risk to them.


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Maenporth Beach Café suffered extensive damage after a fire broke out on its roof in 2019. Mr Wright was working inside the café at the time when the lights went out and he noticed a burning smell, before heading outside only to discover that the roof was light. It was described it as “devastating day” for them.

Earlier this year, Mr Wright submitted a similar planning application for an ANPR system to be installed, however, it was refused on the basis that the proposed signage and a four-metre camera and pole would represent "incongruous and visually intrusive urban features which would fail to conserve or enhance the landscape character and scenic beauty of the Cornwall National Landscape [the new name for an AONB]".

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The new plan removes the ANPR 4m camera pole and replaces it with a single bollard camera and a wall mounted camera on the beach café building. There would be a reduction in the number and size of signs - three at either end of the car park and near the exit, with signage likely to be 500mm x 600mm and "coloured appropriately".

In a statement shared on Facebook, the leaseholders said: "We run Life’s A Beach Café; our lease with the council obliges us to prevent overnight parking/camping and antisocial behaviour. As followers of our social media feeds will be aware, there has been an increase in the number of campervans parking overnight at Maenporth Beach. From beginning of April to May 5, 2024, alone we have CCTV footage of at least 12 campervans parked overnight.

"Maenporth Beach also regularly experiences significant problems caused by people leaving BBQs and from fires on the beach or by the Café buildings - sometimes BBQs even buried in the sand. Last season we had to call the fire brigade out to deal with a couple of potentially dangerous fires on the beach and around the café area. The Falmouth town wardens have also attended to assist in several incidences of antisocial behaviour."

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It added that there will be no change to the current winter parking arrangements and parking between November and late March will remain free. The leaseholders' hope is that the new ANPR system will help keep the beach and café safe and clean for all.

The statement continued: "Finally, we wish to address the rumours about changes to current winter parking arrangements. We have absolutely no intention of changing the current situation for winter parking: parking at Maenporth Beach will remain free for the winter period from November to late March.

"From late March to the end of October there will be a fairer tariff system in place for short-term parking. With the new options customers will be able to pay for one/two/three/four or eight hours of parking instead of having to pay the same flat rate whether you need to park for just an hour or want to spend all day on the beach.

"Our aim is to maintain this beautiful place as a safe and clean beach for all who love it, just like we do. If you’d like to talk to us directly, why not pop into have a chat next time you’re at Maenporth Beach?"