Controversial caravan site to reopen
By Jenni DixonA CARAVAN park which a council has controversially proposed selling off will be opening as normal this year.But the fight over who owns the Southwold caravan site and harbour continues with the council seeking legal advice on whether it is lawfully entitles to put the land up for sale.
By Jenni Dixon
A CARAVAN park which a council has controversially proposed selling off will be opening as normal this year.
But the fight over who owns the Southwold caravan site and harbour continues with the council seeking legal advice on whether it is lawfully entitles to put the land up for sale.
Waveney District Council has called in solicitors to investigate claims from the Southwold Caravan Owners' Association and the Southwold Harbour and River Protection group that the caravan site belongs to the people of the town and not the authority.
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A row erupted last year over the future of the Ferry Road site and nearby harbour when the cash-strapped council announced plans to sell it on a 99-year lease because it could not afford to bring the venue up to modern day standards.
Caravan owners and residents feared a take-over by a private company would spoil the site and threaten the town's way of life.
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Campaigners against the sale claimed the land had been left to the town by landowner William Godell in 1509.
They argued that only the right to take income from the site was transferred to the council on its formation in 1974, not the freehold, so the authority was not lawfully entitled to sell the land.
There had been uncertainty about the future of the caravan site amid the legal wrangling, but Waveney District Council has now announced it would be reopening on April 1.
Its leisure and support manager, Graham Osborne, said: “I am optimistic we now have a way forward, subject to the resolution of the legal situation.
“The district council will only then consider all the options for future management of the site.
“Given this uncertain time and with the coming season is fast approaching, the caravan sites working party has taken the view that district council should open the site in 2004 as normal. There is no chance anything will change before then.
“We know the standards are below what is considered acceptable, but it is the preferred option to maintain the service pending a resolution regarding the future management. It is in nobody's interests not to open the caravan site this year.”
Dougie Dorrington, chairman of Southwold Caravan Owners' Association, said: “We can go forward from this and by the end of the year have a conclusion hopefully in our favour. The ownership issue will not stop until we get a final conclusion.”
Brian Morton, chairman of Southwold Harbour and River Protection group, added: “I'm pleased to have already talked to the solicitors acting for the council and we have agreed to send them the QC's opinion with information on how the QC formed the opinion.
“I'm pleased there is some rapport between Southwold and Waveney District Council.”