Lodge owners at a Moray holiday park have claimed they are “trapped” after being told their fees will go up by more than 50% this year.
Lossiemouth Holiday Park – formerly Lossiemouth Bay Caravan Park – comprises of static caravans and fixed lodges.
Since it was taken over by national chain Park Holidays UK last June, owners have branded the park a “scrapyard” and said they felt their “happy place” was slipping away.
Many have been forced out by new rules regarding how old the caravans can be while others have upped sticks by choice, accusing new management of “bullying” people out.
In the most recent turn of events, owners of the park’s lodges have received letters telling them their next round of site fees are to increase by thousands of pounds.
And while many have already left, or are considering a move, lodge owners particularly feel trapped – amid claims Park Holidays will take 18% of whatever they sell their property for.
George MacCrae, who owns a lodge, said: “We can’t go forward or back, we’re stuck here.”
Lossiemouth Holiday Park fees to go up
Mr MacCrae will see his pitch fees increase by nearly 53% from £3,920 to £5,975 come April.
In a letter seen by The Press & Journal, Park Holidays UK has given a number of reasons for the rise:
The letter says the company must be able to offer “competitive” rates of pay to “attract the best candidates for customer-facing positions.”
However, caravan owners previously claimed the office at the park is open just twice a week for a few hours and that there is no Park Holidays representation there outwith this. They also claim weekly Q&A clinics they were promised have not happened.
The letter states: “Whilst we have replaced much of our plant and machinery with more environmentally friendly electric alternatives, the costs to operate these items has increased significantly.”
These new pitch fees do not include rates, water, insurance, gas or electricity.
Maintenance and materials
The letter says: “The cost of all materials has risen primarily as a result of fuel costs increases.”
Some caravans were moved late in 2022 for proposed redevelopment of a section of the park, but no work has yet begun.
Enhancing facilities and appeal
The letter says: “We also take into account investment made to enhance the park’s facilities or appeal”.
There are no facilities at Lossiemouth Holiday Park.
Empty plots scattered with debris and building materials now rival those still occupied by caravans.
The letter said: “Despite the high inflation rate and increase in operating costs, we have minimised the impact as much as possible for the 2023 season.”
Mr MacCrae will have to spend more than £2,000 more each year he decides to stay at the park.
‘Trapped’: Park Holidays UK would take 18% of caravan sale
And if he chooses to move, he’s calculated he would need to sell his lodge for an extra £60,000 than he bought it for – at a time when there were more facilities.
He and other owners claim Park Holidays UK told them it would take 18% of whatever they sold their caravan or lodge for if they decided to leave.
Mr MacCrae bought his lodge for around £149,000 so would need to sell for closer to £200,000 to avoid a loss.
“They can pick up their caravans and leave, but they know they’ve got us lodge owners because we can’t move, we’re anchored to the ground,” he said.
“For me to sell it back to them I would have to pay well over £200,000 because they’re going to take 18% plus VAT on whatever it’s sold at and they have to approve the sale.”
Lossiemouth owners should use facilities at Silver Sands instead
Park Holidays UK also took the letter regarding fees as an opportunity to inform owners of new £1.5 million improvement works – at nearby Silver Sands, not Lossiemouth Holiday Park.
Management said owners are “welcome to use” facilities at Silver Sands, with investment focusing on the pool, gym and shop areas. A smaller £160,000 is to be used at Lossiemouth park for plants, landscaping and lighting.
Mr MacCrae said that “rubs salt into the wounds” and that it would cost around £15 each way for a taxi to Silver Sands to use the facilities there.
He claimed he recently discovered pitch fees at Silver Sands will be cheaper than those at Lossiemouth this year, despite the range of facilities in comparison.
“Silver Sands has all the amenities, the pool, shop, a bar, everything, we’ve got nothing,” said Mr MacCrae.
“There’s no street lights, security, nothing.”
Park Holidays UK response
When asked about the increase in fees, a spokesman for Park Holidays UK said: “Pitch fees at Lossiemouth Holiday Park have been adjusted for 2023 and represent an increase less than the rate of inflation.
“With all the investment that we have made in improving facilities at the Lossiemouth parks plus the under-inflation increase in fees, we believe holiday home ownership remains a very attractive option and we anticipate 2023 being a successful year which will continue to benefit the local economy.
“Lossiemouth holiday home owners also now have full use of all the leisure, dining and entertainment facilities available at the adjoining Silver Sands Holiday Park, an additional benefit we have been happy to be able to provide.”