Friday, 29 February 2008

Stalag Sandhaven

Catching up with last nights Gazette has revealed that problems are already starting to arise from the new ownership regime at Sandhaven Caravan Park. Readers will recall that South Tyneside Council sold the lease for the site to Northumberland Leisure, a company the public were assured had a sound and committed attitude to the region and the site. That may be so, but on the public relations front they have scored 0 out 10!

Whilst the ink isn’t even dry on the sale contract, Northumberland Leisure have announced rent increases of £300, a metered electricity system and have told residents that they are no longer guaranteed their standard plots. Oh and by the way, if you don’t like these new changes, they are going to charge you £700 to remove your caravan.

Clearly under the impression that the current tenants are nothing more akin to new age travellers, Northumberland Leisure have used a sledge hammer approach to try and get rid of them. If any further proof were needed, read what Nigel Thompson , head of the Leisure concern, said to the Gazette when asked for comment:

"The bottom line is, the people on that site have been able to do what they want for too long. It's been a free-for-all….At the moment they've been letting any Joe Bloggs come on to the campsite to remove caravans from their pitches, and damage can be caused.”

The Gazette goes on further to report:

When we asked what would happen if owners attempted to remove their own caravans, rather than paying £700, he replied: "I don't like the tone of this conversation, I'm not going to get a fair hearing, I'm going to end this conversation now."The Gazette contacted his central office by fax asking further questions, but there was no response.A council spokesman confirmed that it used to allow tenants to bring their own private contractors on to the site to move caravans.However, the spokesman added that the council was unaware these changes would come into force when it sold the land, as it was a 'commercial decision' on behalf of Northumbrian Leisure. It therefore couldn't forewarn caravan owners.

So there you have it – Sandhaven Caravan is now run by a company who have an attitude better suited to running prisons and whose head clearly lacks manners, decorum and an affinity for his customers. To cap it all, the Council new nothing about what would happen because basically all they wanted was the money.

In some cases patrons of the site have had pitches for nearly twenty years. Due to the introduction of these ridiculous fees together with new draconian regulations, many will be forced to leave.

So, where are all the supporters of the sale of the Sandhaven and Lizard sites now then – suspiciously quite can be the only way to describe their stance!

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