Van owners given marching orders
For 20 of those years the Melville’s have had a permanent site, using their caravan for at least six weeks at Christmas and many other times during the year.
Three generations of the family call the caravan park ‘their second home’.
But just before Christmas the Melville’s and the owners of nine other permanent sites (storage sites) were given their marching orders by the Byron Shire Council.
They have been given three months to vacate their sites.
The decision by the council, made at a meeting on December 17, followed a notice of motion by Cr Patrick Morrisey.
In the motion Cr Morrisey said that council had only two holiday parks left in its ownership and control of these sites needed to be managed for the best economic (financial and social) returns for the residents of the shire.
“Suffolk Park Holiday Park is a popular destination for residents of the region, but capacity is limited,” he said.
“The 10 holiday van site occupiers pay $75 per week for the privilege of leaving their vans on site all year round.
“Most of the time the vans are empty, providing little social or financial benefit to the shire.
“At council’s current 2009/10 rates, if occupied all year round, these vans could be leased for up to $29,480 per year.
“This is money that could be used in both Suffolk Park and throughout the shire.”
Cr Morrisey said that by returning the 10 van sites to the general public to use, the council had the opportunity to provide more affordable beachside holiday options for its residents and ratepayers and a better financial return.
Mr Melville said the decision by the council had upset his entire family.
“We will fight this, as we have certain rights and there are avenues that we are exploring,” he said.
“There are at least four or five families who for three generations have holidayed at this park.
“We have the support of all the people who have been affected by this decision.
“It’s very sad. It’s the end of an era and the council did not even consult us.”
Mr Melville’s wife Noela said the family had been looking forward to a big reunion at Easter, but now this would probably not occur.
Council staff and managers of the holiday park will now negotiate with the site occupiers to either remove their vans or sell them to council at an agreed value that could include their continued use of the vans for a few nominated weeks per year for a set period of years in lieu of a cash payment.
If the vans are removed, the council will also investigate the erection of safari tents for holiday accommodation.
Council’s general manager, Graeme Faulkner, said he was sure there would be some people unhappy with the council resolution.
“But council is committed and will proceed, notwithstanding there may be legal action in the future,” he said.