Caravan owners celebrate site victory
By Jenni DixonCARAVAN owners won last night the right to keep their mobile holiday homes on the Southwold Harbour site.Waveney District Council had announced a plan to transfer the running of the site to a private company on a long lease as part of a cost-cutting drive - and told owners to remove their caravans by the end of the month.
By Jenni Dixon
CARAVAN owners won last night the right to keep their mobile holiday homes on the Southwold Harbour site.
Waveney District Council had announced a plan to transfer the running of the site to a private company on a long lease as part of a cost-cutting drive - and told owners to remove their caravans by the end of the month.
But a special meeting of its scrutiny committee last night agreed the caravans could stay over the winter.
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However, the question of who owns the Ferry Road site and the legality of the transfer plan still rages after it emerged preliminary legal advice sought by one pressure group had stated it belonged to Southwold Town Council.
The special meeting was held to review the council's process of selling the Southwold and North Denes, Lowestoft, sites.
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Graham Osborne, the council's leisure development and support manager, said he was considering a proposal from various groups in Southwold, including the town council, to hand over the management of the site and the harbour to a specifically-formed trust.
“This council accepts the need for more time to consider this proposal. It is unlikely that the site works will proceed this winter and as this was a reason why we asked the caravans to be removed, the council has taken the decision to allow owners to stay on site if they wish to,” he added.
Dougie Dorrington, chairman of the Southwold Caravan Owners Association, said he was relieved at the decision, but was frustrated by its timing as at least one caravan had already been moved off site.
The association and the Southwold Harbour and River Protection group also revealed the findings of preliminary legal advice over the ownership of the site.
Group chairman, Brian Morton, said: “We have received counsel's opinion and it states it is very likely Waveney has no right to sell the site and that it probably belongs to Southwold Town Council.”
Steve Macfarlane, a member of the town council's harbour sub-group, supported this view.
He said only the harbour and half of the caravan site had been transferred freehold to Waveney District Council under the 1972 Local Government Act.
Committee chairman, Sally Spore, it was taking legal advice on the matter and would inform the public of its findings.
The committee agreed any decision reached by the council's executive on the disposal of both caravan sites was to be referred to the full council for the final decision.