The annual debate regarding the fees and charges at Coleraine Council’s caravan sites raised its head again last week.
A proposed increase of £74 for static caravan rentals – which includes the fee plus rates and VAT – was on the table.
It was also proposed by the Corporate Director of Leisure and Development, Mr Richard Baker, that on-site caravan sales be offered to an outside agency for a one-year trial period.
The proposed agreement would compromise of an ‘up front’ fee per site per year, plus a set amount per caravan sold and sited.
However, the proposal didn’t go down too well with several councillors though, who complained that work which was due to be carried out at some of the sites had still not started.
“Here we are proposing a rent increase of 2.7 per cent for caravan owners, even though the work has still not been started,” said Alderman Bradley.
“The ampage at Carrick Dhu is still nowhere near what it should be – and there is also an issue with the drainage.
“In lieu of this work still to be completed, I propose there should only be a rise of one per cent.
“I also propose that we should not be outsourcing the sales in to the private sector. This is should be managed by council, so that the waiting list for caravan sites remains transparent.”
Cllr Christine Alexander agreed with Ald Bradley on keeping the sales aspect within the council – however, she said she felt that the proposed 2.7 per cent increase was modest.
“A lot of things are promised in the capital programme but never go ahead but we still have to pay our rates. This increase is on a par with other caravan parks,” said Cllr Alexander.
Cllr George Duddy asked Mr Baker why the work had still not been carried out at the sites, saying it had been ongoing throughout his two-and-a-half years in council.
“This is one of the council’s biggest money makers, yet we are neglecting the work which needs to be done, but we increase the rent year-on-year,” he said.
Mr Baker said it was a case of ‘prioritising the work’ and that he expected the ampage and drainage problems – along with the new toilet block – to be completed ‘within the next financial year’.
Cllr Richard Holmes said he didn’t understand why the council was involved in the private sale of caravans between two individuals.
Mr Baker said that this had always been the practice.
However, he added that bringing in an agent would allow council to step away from the process and still make money from it.
Alderman Bradley though, who asked for a recorded vote on his proposal not to bring in an outside agency, said that it would turn in to a bidding war in terms of the waiting list.
Alderman Bradley’s proposal for a one per cent increase was beaten 10 to eight, with the 2.7 per cent recommendation being passed by 10 votes to eight.
However, the second proposal for Council to remain involved with the sale of caravans on its site was carried by nine votes to eight.