The owner of a motorhome parked in a Shoreham Beach car park for over two months, which has attracted complaints from residents, has spoken out about his reasons for being there.
The man, who wished to be named only as Neil, said he had started living in his motorhome when – due to ‘unfortunate circumstances’ – he was made homeless from his residence in Shoreham Beach.
Neil, who is registered disabled and unable to work, said he had struggled to find anywhere to park his motorhome, as he said: “Everywhere I go I’m deemed to be parked illegally.”
The 63-year-old decided to stay at the car park on Harbour Way while he looked for somewhere permanent.
However, this week, the Environment Agency contractor Mackley closed the car park to set up a compound, ahead of beginning construction on flood defences at the site on Monday.
For weeks, Neil has been driving ‘all over Sussex’ looking for a suitable motorhome pitch, with the help of housing officers from Adur District Council.
He said: “I wasn’t asking for a house, because I know there are no houses or flats.
“You would have more chance of finding a unicorn.
“With the motorhome, I have my own place, all I need is somewhere to park it, somewhere I won’t get hassled.”
But securing a pitch where he could stay long term, and where housing benefits were accepted, proved difficult.
Neil has suffered from a number of ‘debilitating’ health issues since contracting Lyme Disease while in Portugal ten years ago.
His chronic fatigue and neurological problems left him unable to continue working as a kitchen fitter.
He said: “Life is difficult enough without people saying ‘you can’t park here’ – without saying where you can park.”
He said of the residents’ complaints: “Where I was parked, I wasn’t right outside people’s front doors.
“I was trying to be considerate.”
On Wednesday, due to construction work being imminent, Neil was offered emergency accommodation by the council.
However, he had fortunately just managed to secure a pitch at a site in Hailsham in East Sussex.
He said he was disappointed at moving so far away, having spent most of his life around Shoreham.
Neil was due to leave the site today (Thursday, November 2), but has delayed the move because of his health.
He has agreed with Mackley to quit the site before Monday.
A spokesman from West Sussex County Council confirmed it had been working to resolve the issue, adding: “Regrettably another caravan has turned up at this location and we are dealing with this matter also.
“If this vehicle fails to move court action will be taken.”