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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 Mablethorpe 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.

Stuart Allen. | Image: BBC News Hub

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.

A Sutton on Sea car park will be resurfaced as part of a £500,000 bid to improve and increase parking in the town, with local leaders expecting a surge of visitors.

East Lindsey District Council’s Executive Board on Wednesday will be asked to approve the cash to install hard surfacing and vehicle bay lining at Broadway Car Park, which is currently unsurfaced.

A report before the committee said the move will lead to an extra 30 spaces – from 120-150 – and will bring in around £60,000 a year extra revenue to the council.

It comes as around £6.2 million of work is to begin in November to replace the old Sutton on Sea Colonnade with a new landmark building including cafe, exhibition space and viewing decks.

ELDC is looking to replace the old facilities with a new ice cream kiosk, shower changing facilities and public toilets along with 16 new beach huts and six holiday lodges.

The report before councillors said: “The Stage 2 Towns Fund Business Case provides an estimated 75,000 visitors per annum to the new Colonnade facilities, with scope to increase this further through additional bespoke events.

“This is expected to significantly increase demand for local parking from 2021/22 figures by providing new markets and new reasons for residents and visitors to access local facilities all year round.

“As such, there is a realistic prospect that during peak periods the current off-street car parking provision in Sutton on Sea will become increasingly insufficient to meet demand without additional investment to increase capacity.”

The council could also look at installing electric vehicle charging points and solar power options along with facilities for campervans in a bid to attract even more visitors.

Tariffs for parking will also be examined as part of future plans. If approved, it is hoped the plans will also make the area more welcoming.

A Lincolnshire man who lent his car to a major heroin dealer so he could source drugs for his then partner was given a suspended jail sentence.

Kevin Hislop, 43, was described as having a “limited role” in a larger conspiracy to supply heroin to the streets of Skegness.

Under cover police officers carried out test purchases of the Class A drug over several months in the Summer of 2017 in a special investigation codenamed “Operation Hazelbrook.”

Hislop admitted driving Paul Steven Wilkinson, 41, who was described as the “head of operation”, on two occasions and lending him his car for nine trips.

Lincoln Crown Court heard a total of 33 trips to ferry drugs were made from Leicester to the seaside town.

Wilkinson was sentenced to over 14 years imprisonment in January 2020.

Six other people were also jailed for a total of over 21 years for their roles in the conspiracy.

Hislop, of West End, Spilsby, had been due to stand trial in July 2019 but his case was halted and then delayed because of the Covid pandemic.

When his case was re-listed following the pandemic Hislop admitted a charge of drugs conspiracy.

The court heard Hislop had admitted driving Wilkinson to Leicester on one occasion to collect some clothes when he was interviewed by police.

Almas Ben-Aribia, prosecuting, said that was in fact a lie, with Hislop making two trips with Wilkinson.

Miss Ben-Aribia added that the car in which the trips were made was registered in the name of Hislop’s then partner.

Michael Cranmer-Brown, mitigating, said Hislop had only got involved because he was concerned for his then partner.

“It is is quite unusual, but this man’s motivation was not to get drugs for himself, but to source them for his partner,” Mr Cranmer-Brown explained.

“He was concerned that she was rattling.”

Mr Cranmer-Brown said Hislop was now in a new relationship and was a hard working man.

“His employers are aware of these proceedings, he works for an engineering company,” Mr Cranmer-Brown added.

Passing sentence Judge John Pini QC told Hislop he could avoid sending him straight to jail because of his limited role in the conspiracy and his lack of other convictions.

Judge Pini said: “The conspiracy for which I have to sentence you goes back some five years.”

Hislop was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years, and must also complete 180 hours of community punishment.

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