Caravan owners locked in a court battle with East Lindsey District Council said a planned price hike to be voted on by leaders next week will only serve to discourage people from their Ingoldmells park.
The authority’s executive board on Wednesday will be asked to vote in favour of a 5.8% increase in pitch fees, which bosses said represents around 50% of the latest Retail Price Index (RPI) figures.
In a report, officers said the rise would “meet some of the increased costs the council has, and continues to experience, to protect the council’s financial position”.
They concluded: “The recommendations in this report represent a reasonable, justified and proportionate approach to Kingfisher Caravan Park pitch fee increases and associated discounts and late payment fees for 2023.”
However, Stuart Allen, who is among a group of owners currently in a fight with ELDC after they brought in strict new policies on the age limits of caravans, said many members were “surprised” by the move.
“The site is still only occupied around 50%, with a significant number of the vans on site being directly owned and operated by the council,” he said.
“Increasing the ground rent will further encourage people to leave and discourage people to buy onto the site.
“For multiple years the council refrained from applying any increase in site rent, since COVID and the loss of vans on the site we have had inflationary increases every year.
“The council knows that the country is facing difficult times financially… but still they feel the need to agree an increase – why?”
Mr Allen said those like him, who refuse to sign new contracts (and include the ones involved in the ongoing court dispute) had been excluded from the early discount.
He also questioned why an audit report on the Kingfisher Caravan Park, which was due to appear on July 6, wasn’t on the agenda.
The group is in the process of gathering more than 80 witness statements covering over 100 caravans to take to the court. Then, the council will be asked to submit their defence or agree a settlement before a court date is finalised.
“The council seems focused on attacking the group members by forcing them to jump for more and more hoops eating into their own personal finances while the council continue to burn public funds,” said Mr Allen.
“The group are ashamed at what the once wonderful Kingfisher Caravan Park, has become.
“The site is a shadow of its former self and the council should be ashamed,” he said calling for the council to return to working with the group.
A spokesperson for East Lindsey District Council said: “The impact of inflation is inescapable for every business, every individual and the council.
“However, the council fully appreciates the impact on everyone and that is why the executive will be considering a recommendation to limit any increase to the pitch fee at the park to half of the latest rate of RPI published by the Office for National Statistics.
“In terms of court action, the council again makes it clear that in 2021 a claim was launched by owners against the council and not the other way round.
“Even more surprisingly, after the elapse of eight months from the date of issue, the owners have still not submitted their Particulars of Claim to the High Court.
“The owners have requested and been granted three deadline extensions but have provided no date for compliance.
“Notwithstanding communication with solicitors acting for the owners, the owners have provided no date for compliance with the procedural timetable it asked for.
“This is hugely disappointing to the council. Continued negative media around the park is not being fueled by the council but by others, including some of the owners bringing the claim.”
The sale of caravans and holidays on the site is led by the authority’s arms-length company Invest East Lindsey Limited.