In a move to clamp down on what it perceives as people trying to avoid paying council tax, Denbighshire Council has conducted a study of 5 caravan sites and holiday parks. The main concern appears to be that Static Caravan owners are using their vans for residential purposes rather than Holiday Homes.
Most of the results of the study have not been made available to the public but will be under discussion at the next council meeting.
Effect on local services
The report focuses on a number of caravan parks in Denbighshire, how they are being used and the effect of more people making caravans their permanent residence. Concerns expressed by council members include the impact on schools, medical centres and local services.
Joan Butterfield, a Denbighshire councillor stated that her fellow councillors should take care not to demonize caravan owners or condemn those who actually do live in caravans.
She said that there seemed to be a number of people in the area that did want to live in their caravans permanently; and that her colleagues were trying to create the impression that this was a bad idea in relation to people living in the town.
Regulate rather than ban
She felt a better resolution to the matter would be to regulate these people and obtain some revenue rather than banning 24/7 use. By doing so she believes that they would feel part of the community rather than ostracized from it.
There are around 6,000 Static Caravans in the county located on sites that differ both in size and the way they are operated. Most are licensed for holiday and tourist use.
Licensing and planning regulations are already in place for the majority of the caravan parks but records tended to be incongruent, not taking into account the changing patterns of holidays or indeed the parks.
Councillor Butterfield said it was necessary to know a number of rates being paid by the park operators/owners, whether the rates being paid by people living in caravans were higher and if the revenue is passed on to the council. She feels that regulation could achieve more revenue for all concerned.
Study has not yet been completed
She also believes that since the study is incomplete it’s too early for the council to comment on it and that when the full picture emerges, it may allay some fears.
When the study began, it was reported that caravan site owners were not keen on making their records available to council officials but now are more cooperative.
In addition to some 6,000 Static Caravan pitches in the county, there is also space available for 900 touring caravans.