Controversial changes to the Kingfisher Caravan Park in Ingoldmells could see East Lindsey District Council lose £2.5million in income over the next two years – but the authority is confident services won’t be affected.
The figures, revealed in an audit committee meeting, showed that in 2019/20 there had been an £842,000 deficit in income and councillors calculated the total losses in the years ahead.
Owners of caravans on the site have hit back at a council order to pack up any holiday homes older than 20 years in a bid to modernise the campsite (previously reported as 15).
The council, which owns the park, says the investment is long-overdue and is needed to ensure the site is successful for the future.
However, more than 100 people remaining on the site plan to take the council to court.
James Gilbert, ELDC’s interim deputy chief executive for people, said the site continued to generate more than £1m income each year and there wouldn’t be impact on the council’s services, despite the dent in the budget.
They said: “Whilst this has reduced site income in the short term, the change that is being implemented is positioning the park so it can operate a more commercial model in the future.”
They added the plans brought them into line with other sites on the coast and that owners could either upgrade their caravan or move their van to another site.
The spokesman confirmed ELDC had incurred “some legal costs” due to the court action by the owners group, but did not say how much that was.
However, they added: “We will be very disappointed if legal action is pursued as the council is confident that everything it has implemented is absolutely lawful.
“The changes being made at the park are about ensuring its longer term success and enabling investment to be made, whilst generating profits that fund services that are of value to our residents.
“It was always acknowledged that income for the park would be reduced in the short term, this is something the council has always been able to manage within its overall budget without impact on services to the people of East Lindsey.”
The recent report said that only £13,000 of a £175,000 total allocated to make improvements of the site had been spent, however officers said that had now been spent following a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officers responding to councillors’ concerns about the financial deficit and the potential impact on the local economy from the removal of the caravan owners, said they hoped the income would return to the previous levels by 2022/23.
However, members of the audit committee continued to be concerned that the impact of COVID would take its toll, and were concerned not everyone was “going to rush to the British seaside”.
They suggested the councils plans should have been phased through, rather than done “all at once”.
During the meeting in June, Councillor Colin Davie said: “The aerial pictures of the site are very depressing, it looks terrible. People that have caravans spend money in the local area but that’s not going through the local economy either.”
He said the loss of income was “substantial”, queried why it had not been phased in rather than all at once and called for the decision to go through further scrutiny.
Following the meeting on Wednesday, he said: “The audit and governance committee, of which I am a member is a critical part of ensuring that the council performs to the very best of its abilities for its residents.
“Members of that committee have an absolute responsibility to ask questions and demand answers so the performance of the council, is constantly improving.”
The committee agreed to take the matter into further scrutiny at a later point.