Surf instructor living in van amid Cornwall's housing crisis fears attacks this winter

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

A surf instructor forced to live in a van because of Cornwall's housing crisis has said he's concerned about his safety as the winter approaches.

Ross James lives in his converted van with his dog. He paid to park at holiday campsites during the summer, but many are now closed or have raised their prices.

After having his van attacked by vandals in the winter previously, he says he now feels "uneasy" about parking up on streets and lay-bys.

"I know it's not pretty to look at but it's not necessarily our fault that we're in this situation," he told ITV News West Country.

Ross says he moves his van on a regular basis to avoid outstaying his welcome Credit: ITV News

"Most of us are not doing it for the Instagram pictures of the lovely sunrise in the morning. You're looking out at a roofing company or builders merchants, just because it saves money."

Ross has had people "trying the handles" of his van as they walk past at night, making him feel uneasy.

He even had the fog lights smashed on his old van.

Feeling shaken after incidents like this, Ross says he would rather pay for parking at holiday parks but winter rates of even £30 a night are too costly.

He said: "At the moment I am trying to restart my business after Covid, a personal training and a surf fitness, a cleaning job a couple of days a week. So the moment £30 a night is just out of my budget."

Friend and training client Katrina Beddoe says she had a "heavy heart" whenever she talks to Ross about the housing situation in Newquay.

She said: "It's always - so where have you slept tonight? Are you having to move somewhere?

"There's been a lot of situations in Newquay where people are unable to afford housing and rent, so they're in their vans and there's some that tarnish the name of the van lifers."

Ross and Katrina have been surf training together for several years Credit: Katrina Beddoe

In January this year, Newquay ‘van lifers’ faced an overnight camping ban in a crackdown by Cornwall Council.

The consultation nicknamed the 'ban the van' campaign asked residents in Newquay if they wanted tougher parking restrictions on select town centre roads.

The results were not as strict as initially mooted, but the changes have not made it easier for people looking to park motorhomes overnight in the town with restrictions in most council car parks between 11pm and 8am.

Cornwall Council says it has no plans to change the overnight parking rules.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "There are a number of sites available across Cornwall during the winter months.

Motor homes and campers are prohibited from parking overnight at long stay car parks such as Towan Headland Credit: ITV News

"Cornwall Council does not have plans to permit overnight camping in its car parks or on residential roads in tourist hotspots. Many of the current restrictions have been put in place at the request of residents and local councils and any potential changes will be subject to public consultation."

Ross believes there should be a UK equivalent of the French Aires - a low-cost place for motorhomes or campers to stay.

"Just a campsite for vans, nothing out of the ordinary just something that goes on all year round.

"It's a good little business and it's gonna solve a lot of the issues around Cornwall."