'Hands off our vans' - Ingoldmells caravanners set for second battle

A single mum struggling to give her children a nice holiday is one of many caravanners in Ingoldmells facing an uncertain future because their vans are too old.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 5:04 pm
Caravanners who protested in 2017 face a new battle to stay on Kingfisher Caravan Site in Ingoldmells.

It's two years since caravanners on Kingfisher Park in Sea Lane believed they had won their battle to stay in holiday homes that were more than 15 years old - receiving a letter signed by ELDC leader Coun Craig Leyland apologising for the "unsettling period" and reassuring them "planned changes have been revoked and consigned to history".

But last week they were dealt another blow. East Lindsey District Council, who run the site and now plan to take control of sales from Coastfields, says owners meeting the criteria of new multiyear licences will see "an increase in the residual value of their caravan at the end of the licensing period". The authority claims owners will also benefit from improvements to the Park itself, "with the ultimate aim of achieving 5 star accreditation from Visit England"

However, the Standard has been told of numerous families facing an uncertain future - as well as those who rent vans out and now have to hand over management to ELDC.

According to our sources, local businesses are also set to lose out as owners under the new scheme have been told to use inhouse contractors for refurbishment.

Already a petition on change.org has attracted more than 2,100 signatures and caravanners are meeting to plan their next steps.

One owner with a 19-year-old van told us: "I'm a single working mum of two with a mortgage.

"The caravan was our holiday home and we hired it out to make a bit back but not to make money..

"I had a personal loan to buy it and still owe £8,000.

"Now I'm told I can't sell it privately but I'm struggling - this is devastating for my family."

Another bought her van in January 2018 believing there were no age limits.

"She bought a 1996 van because the seller had a letter guaranteeing no changes in age limits," the owner's mother told us as the family tried to enjoy a half-term break.

"Her twin bought a van in January this year and is here with her 13-week baby for the first time. We just don't know what to do."

According to documents shared with the Standard, It is believed there are more than 680 vans on site and 230 face being removed unless owners are granted a year's grace if they pass an inspection.

Around 584 vans with are rented out will also now be managed by ELDC,

A couple who had hoped the last protest has saved their vans two years ago say they feel their only option will be to get legal advice.

"We are signing the new licences under duress but will look at other ways to fight this."

East Lindsey District Council told the Standard: “Changes are being made to the operation of Kingfisher Caravan Park.

“The decision to introduce the new multiyear licences has been taken firmly with licensees and the continued sustainability of the site in mind. The longer length of the licence offers our licensees a greater peace of mind around the viability of what is a significant investment – much more so than the annual licence previously offered. Those individuals whose caravans no longer meet the requirements for one of the new licences are free to move their caravan to another site, we are in no way saying they must get rid of their caravan.

“Our licensees will also benefit from an increase in the residual value of their caravan at the end of the licensing period, compared with what they would have at the end of 25 to 30 years – meaning they will see a greater return should they choose to sell or part exchange it.

"This will also remove situations we currently see where licensees are having to pay to dispose of their old caravans or are simply walking away from them which leaves us to chase them to recover the debt. The park management will also be in a better position to help or assist the licensees with making better informed decisions about their caravan.

“Owners with caravans over 20 years old will be granted a further one year licence providing they pass a safety test or carry out repairs requested, in order to give them a year to consider how they would like to proceed.

“Alongside these changes, we’re also going to be investing heavily in making some improvements to the Park itself. In addition to our new sales showground, we’ll be working to modernise the caravan bays and will soon be looking to increase the facilities available onsite, as well as investing in existing facilities.

"All these changes are hugely positive for Kingfisher Caravan Park and to the benefit of our licensees, with the ultimate aim of achieving 5 star accreditation from Visit England.”