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‘Embarrassing’: Park Holidays UK bosses ‘unaware’ of new rules being enforced at Lossiemouth and Burghead caravan parks

Douglas Ross met with Park Holidays UK this week. Picture by Jason Hedges.
Douglas Ross met with Park Holidays UK this week. Picture by Jason Hedges.

Holiday park bosses were “unaware” of some of the tough new rules and evictions being enforced in Moray, it has been claimed.

Devastated caravan owners at Lossiemouth Bay Caravan Park and Burghead Holiday Park have been told they need to upgrade or leave the site.

Under previous management, owners had a licence for 10 years which could then be renewed annually, but Park Holidays UK has put an end to this.

It has also imposed a number of strict rules upon owners including a ban on wooden decking, gardens, outdoor ornaments and rotary washing lines.

Moray MP Douglas Ross visited Lossiemouth Bay Caravan Park this week, speaking to owners who have been given less than a year to leave the site.

Describing it as “unacceptable”, he organised a meeting with Ricky Turner, Scottish regional manager of Park Holidays, and James Ellison, general manager of the Moray sites.

Afterwards, he described the meeting as “uncomfortable” and “embarrassing”.

Douglas Ross meeting with caravan owners on Monday. Picture by Jason Hedges.

‘Uncomfortable’ meeting

One of the problems raised by residents at both Moray parks was the communication from holiday park bosses, with many left feeling “intimidated” by the letters.

Some said they felt “talked down to” and one Burghead owner, Albert Burnett, branded one letter he had been sent “a threat”.

Mr Turner and Mr Ellison visited the park this week following complaints, and Mr Ross said during his meeting with them they accepted the approach taken had been “completely wrong”.

“I think it’s fair to say it was an uncomfortable meeting for the representatives who accepted that upon reflection some of their communication did seem threatening,” said Mr Ross.

“I thought that was a significant acceptance from the management that their tactics had been completely wrong, and they have lost the trust and faith of caravan owners at the site.”

Mr Ross also claimed the bosses seemed unaware of some of the strict rules being enforced at their parks.

He said: “It was also embarrassing during the meeting when it became clear these senior managers weren’t even aware of some of the rules that they are now forcing people to follow.”

Ian and Jean Bancroft have lived at the caravan park for nearly 10 years. Picture by Jason Hedges.

Drop-in clinics to be launched

Among those being uprooted in the Lossiemouth park are Ian and Jean Bancroft who have been living most of the year in their caravan for a decade.

They have been told their caravan is too old to stay on the site, but Mr Bancroft said the pair would fight for their right to stay.

Though there was progress at the meeting, Mr Ross said it is “unacceptable” that it had to come to that point.

“While I welcome their willingness to engage more positively, it’s frankly unacceptable that so many people have been left distressed about their future at the Lossiemouth park because of the actions of this national company since they bought the site.”

Moving forward, Mr Ellison told Mr Ross after the meeting that he was committed to setting up a twice-weekly clinic at the park so people can go to him directly with their opinions.

The Moray MP said: “They have promised a reset and want to speak directly with individual owners as they believe some of the information in the public domain is not correct.”

Lossiemouth Bay Caravan Park. Picture by Jason Hedges.

Monitoring the situation

He added that he would continue to hold Park Holidays responsible for the running of both its parks in Lossiemouth and Burghead.

“There were several issues where they have promised me immediate action and we have agreed to meet again in a few weeks’ time to monitor and assess the commitment they have made to be more open, upfront and reasonable with owners at the site,” he said.

“I will continue to hold Park Holidays to account and work on behalf of residents at the site who simply want to continue to enjoy their caravan in a wonderful location in Moray, without the stress and hassle they have been experiencing in recent months.”

On Tuesday, addressing the confusion about licences, a spokesman from Park Holidays said: “When customers originally bought a holiday home at Lossiemouth Bay Holiday Park, they signed a contract which specified the number of years they would be permitted to occupy the pitch in the holiday home they were buying.

“For a number of customers, that period is now approaching its end or, in some cases, ended a few years ago and they have been allowed to remain on an annually renewed licence.

“We have therefore written to all these customers advising them that their licence to occupy the pitch will come to an end on 31 March 2023.

“However, as a gesture of goodwill we have decided to extend to these customers the benefit of our group’s Covid 19 support package which recognises that many owners were unable to use their holiday homes during lockdowns, and can therefore claim a six-month extension of their licence after it ends.”

Park Holidays has been approached for an updated comment.