East Riding of Yorkshire Council to help owners stay in caravans and lodges during lockdown

Councillors have backed a call to help the owners of holiday caravans and lodges stay in East Riding parks during lockdown if they have nowhere to go.

East Riding Council have said they will help caravan and lodge owners stay in them during lockdown

East Riding Council members passed an amended motion which calls on its officers to help owners stay in parks until the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the motion, originally tabled by Liberal Democrat Coun Mike Heslop-Mullens and passed with amendments from Conservative Richard Meredith, also states they should not be their owners’ first address.

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It also calls for council officers to look into any caravan parks that may be breaking planning conditions by letting owners use caravans and lodges as their first home.

Coun Heslop-Mullens said although the licences of some owners stop them from staying at parks all year round, allowances should be made during “exceptional times”.

He said: “Under normal circumstances owners would abide by their licences, some would take the opportunity to travel or visit family. But these are exceptional times, asking owners to move from holiday parks to other areas, some with high infection rates, is like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

“The growth of caravan cities on our coast will only exacerbate the problem. I know council officers are looking into these issues already, I’ve forwarded two cases on to them.”

Coun Barbara Jefferson, independent ward member for North Holderness and backer of the motion, said the council should show “compassion” for the owners, some of them elderly and vulnerable.

She said: “These parks have elderly people living on them who’ve gone there to retire and there’s also families living there. Although we can’t make the owners of the sites keep them open, as councillors we should ask our officers to do everything they can for people living there.

“We’ve already had a letter from ministers saying we should be looking after the homeless during lockdown, but we should also be caring for those who might become homeless because of circumstances.

“Some caravan owners have had no option but to rely on friends and family for a roof over their heads. As councillors we should show these people some compassion.”

Coun Meredith said he agreed officers should help those with nowhere to go in lockdown stay in parks.

But he added he did not want to give a “get out of jail free card” to owners using them to avoid paying council tax.

Coun Meredith’s amendment to the motion instructs East Riding officers to get information from site owners on those living there without permanent addresses.

Coun Meredith said: “Law abiding citizens would be upset if we gave those using these parks to avoid living at proper addresses a free pass. Lost tax revenue costs us hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, that money could be used to help the vulnerable.”

Coun Jane Evison, East Wolds and Coastal ward member which contains several caravan parks, said there was evidence some had broken planning conditions requiring owners to have a permanent address.

She said: “It appears some sites aren’t enforcing these conditions. Ours policies are there to ensure we don’t get housing through the back door with these sites. Planning permissions for the sites state people shouldn’t be living in caravans all year round.

“It’s our role to ensure these conditions are met, site owners need to be asked why some living there don’t have permanent addresses.”

Coun John Owen, also of East Wolds and Coastal, said the council should have tackled the issue of those living on parks permanently “years ago”.

He said: “But we’re talking about compassion here, I wouldn’t want anyone to think they might be evicted from them. But this issue does need to be revisited.”

Council leader Richard Burton said: “This is an unprecedented time and this council cares. In the fullness of time we need to ensure these planning conditions are followed.

“Council officers have already extended the licences of some parks temporarily to allow them to stay open during lockdown, unfortunately some haven’t decided to do so.

“In some cases caravan owners have gone to live at other sites if theirs couldn’t be persuaded to stay open. We’re at the forefront of making sure no one becomes homeless at this time.”

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