ALMOST £18,000 was spent on summer tow truck services by Dorset Council last year – although only one vehicle was towed away.

Council accounts show £15,551 for the Studland ferry road and £2,490 for the Lulworth towaway zones.

Council officers claims the low towaway rate means the service was a success.

Corporate director Matthew Piles told councillors the tow trucks were a highly visible reminder to motorists that the area meant business over illegal parking and was prepared to take action.

Bournemouth Echo: Ferry Road, Swanage. Swanage CoastguardFerry Road, Swanage. Swanage Coastguard

The trucks were hired after fears that roads into Lulworth and to and from the Studland ferry could become blocked for emergency vehicles by poor parking as visitors piled into the area when the weather was good.

The figures were revealed during a discussion on last year’s summer operation to deal with higher than average visitor numbers – which most agreed was a success, although it cost much more than normal summer spending.

Councillors on the place and resources scrutiny committee were told that the experience of dealing with the influx over the past two years meant that the coming season was expected to create few challenges, with visitor numbers likely to be lower as foreign holidays become more available.

Some councillors said there were still issues which needed to be tackled – including illegal camping and finding suitable space for motor homes and camper vans.

Bournemouth Echo: Sandbanks peninsulaSandbanks peninsula

Cllr Mark Roberts said he had been disappointed with the police response to illegal camping at West Bexington. He said when officers attended they decided there were no drug problems, as had been alleged, but failed to tackle the unauthorised camping.

Weymouth councillor Brian Heatley said he had also seen problems in his ward with parties on the beach at Castle Cove which he said had caused some residents “considerable distress”, although he said most had been reassured by being offered a number to call if the events got out of hand.

Figures before the committee show extra spending of £120,000 for communications work – mainly on social media campaigns; £157,000 on extra waste services;  £51,000 for additional public toilets and £100,000 for extra staff time offering guidance and help to visitors.

Other items, including additional CCTV, overtime for enforcement officers, barriers, additional road signs, marshalls and car park management brought the total cost for additional services to £1.3m. some of which was funded by Government grants.